PHILIP RICE

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The Mackinac Bridge

Southbound, spanning the great lake
to return to a place we know
unremote, a holy mist is here.

Oh white smooth vault would you
come down further, or must I rise
to touch with the mouth of my heart
the heavenly nothingness?

To one side rough waves
beat against old iron, and I choose
between the grate and the wind-
whipping edge—the other side is calm
as glass. Which cheek is yours, my sweet
lady? Or are these both your lips, one
quivering, the other bitten still?

Would you marry me to the straits
or to the glow of mountains after the sun
has gone to bed? Baptize me at forty miles
per hour, you huge Etruscan sky-mem—

who, who could ever imagine you
passing between two waters:
wet heavy clouds bright above
and sea-dark below?