On Crossing The Chatauqua County Veterans Memorial Bridge



Such is their reward, then,

This graceful bridge bisecting the lake at Bemus Point,

Not far from the spot where Bishop Vincent

Parsed the geography of the holy land,

Narrow beaches fronting a higgledy-piggledy of cottages,

Most comfortable but staid,

Though the odd McMansion grotesquerie has sprouted here and there,

Courtesy of some frozen-food magnate in Buffalo

Or casino second-in-command from Niagara Falls

(Those waters, apparently, insufficient to slake ones thirst for the gaudy)

In any case, likely no more than admired from afar

By those generations of boys

Who, leaving their spot on the line at Crescent Tools

Or fields rife with bumble-striped heifers,

Never returned, drill press unmanned, corn crib unattended.




You’d been on those waters once, however,

Spending an afternoon both bewitching and idyllic

On a dock fronting a relatively humble beach bungalow

(A friend of a family friend or relative’s place,

The whos and whys lost to the manila folders of recollection)

With a girl of ten, perhaps twelve at the outside,

Beautiful in an untrammeled manner,

Or at least primarily, unconsciously so,

And you remember her having green eyes

Which utterly belied description

(Though that was all long ago,

Such reminiscence likely no more than the rheuminess of memory,

And you have not returned to that shoreline since.)




Such daydreams are perilous, on many levels,

At seventy miles per hour even more so,

And you shake yourself back to the present

While approaching yet another bridge

(Humble span noting humble beginnings)

Honoring the region’s most famous daughter

And her husband, who did indeed have much ‘splaining to do,

As you proceed eastbound toward the small city of Salamanca

(Wholly owned by the Seneca Nation,

Those non-native descendants of Mertzes and McGillicuddys

Paying rent and fealty to the tribe each year)

And thence to the slump-shouldered hills

Which shelter the sauntering Allegheny,

The pines thick, green, inscrutable,

Beyond our everday squabbles, answerable to nothing but time itself.






5 thoughts on “On Crossing The Chatauqua County Veterans Memorial Bridge

  1. We were just up by there (kid lives in Buffalo and doesn’t do frozen food). Pretty drive and I agree, “oh, that statue.”
    Good job, man.

  2. listening to this bluegrass playlist that Ron Shields posted on his blog, and it’s suitable to this pen: something of this land on which we reside. well-struck, W ~

  3. There was a tiny amusement park there. I remember the flatness of the streets around the cottages. I also remember the girl and believe that when I stop trying to remember her name, will do so.
    Very much liked the pram. And several others.

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