Song of Destruction / The Halation Effect

Song of Destruction / The Halation Effect | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

The Tappan Zee Bridge toll plaza in 1973. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

the Tappan Zee of my childhood blown up today after
an inclement weather delay—the wingspan of that bridge,

its steel body carrying everyone always over the Hudson
to the Jersey side where in winter icicles would form

on the Palisades’ rock walls from mid-drip runoff crystallized
like the sky, which is monochrome stopped-in-time gray and

everyone is currently obsessed with a YouTube video of two
teens trying to figure out how to use a rotary phone while all

the pathways of my youth are coming down into the river
via controlled demolition and my kids are in the yard trying

ice sledding but since we live on a mountain the neighbor’s son
stands on the hill to stop them before they catch serious air

and launch themselves over the ridge while a marine salvage
crew uses chains placed in the riverbed ahead of detonation

to remove the remains and on Facebook everyone is doing
the aging challenge: posting photos of themselves now and

ten years ago to see what time has wrought—to go back—
there is no reverse and yet we live in many time-frames

simultaneously or at once the buzzing of my son’s cartoons
(someone struggling, someone in distress) we already know

what’s at the other end of this—those two teens didn’t think
to pick up the receiver but I know you will always remember

the feeling of your finger in the dial’s aperture, the way we
waited for it to return to us between each number—I can still

hear its inevitable path slipping back—that bridge a flash of fire
then the entire Eastern section dropped into the river and sat atop

the water like whatever is the opposite of a body, like maybe
a crown and the total demolition involved 300,000 tons of concrete

– 47,000 tons of steel – 13,000 timber pilings; the numbers are
unfathomable, yours long gone from memory but when I trace

the arcs over and over, when I finish while untangling the cord
and listen, there you’ll suddenly be again on the other end

Erika Meitner is the author of five books of poems, including Holy Moly Carry Me, which won the 2018 National Jewish Book Award. She is currently a professor of English at Virginia Tech.
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