2 Ways of Crossing the Creek Poem

2 Ways of Crossing the Creek Poem

Just this side of the reservation
over Big Rapids Creek,
there is a fine bridge built by
the CCC in the thirties.
You know the kind:
careful work by proud men
who were ruined by the times.
Stone and wood, it was
a pretty thing and
heavily used by the traffic.
Half-a-mile down in the woods
I come across 6 Indian men
who have felled and trimmed
a big tree and are tying ropes
around its 2 remaining limbs
which they throw to one who
stands on the other side.
Then they all walk the
half-mile to the bridge,
cross over and down to where
the man with the ropes waits.
I sit there and watch, even push
and tug at the limbs as they
strain and heave the tree
across the rapid creek, then
after 2 hours of sweat they
walk across it, big smiles
all over their bronze faces.
I ask them,
Why go to all this trouble
when there’s a fine bridge near?
They look at me curiously,
and hand me a beer.
They shake their heads and
laugh but do not speak,
as if a man who needs to ask
is already too far gone, as
if he is the kind of man who
would build a bridge when
a log would do.

Red Hawk
first published in The Kenyon Review, New Series, vol.
XX, no. 2, Spring 1998

2 Ways of Crossing the Creek Poem

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