of loadbearing supports and span-rise
ratios. Of harmonic proportions
and Pythagorean mysticism. I couldn’t marvel
at the bright shops jutting from the Ponte Vecchio
without a lecture on ancient architecture
and the ongoing perils of gravity.
I couldn’t wonder aloud how the sun’s
pierced the clouds or how fast the river flows
without a lesson on the hydrologic cycle.
You’d like what I learned today—
that once, not so long ago, the water, rising,
rising, pushed against the piers, pushed
and pushed until they succumbed
to song. Darling, the bridge stood in that flood
and hummed. I write this postcard from
a broadened mind. If I’m to return,
I need to know you believe in
a bridge that can hum, not for science
but desire. A bridge of small talk
and pillow talk—or sometimes no talk at all.
Today in the quiet space beneath its arches,
I heard all we failed to say. I need to know
you believe that happily-ever-after
needs no reasoning or equation.
That you can stand by my side
and admire this pretty-as-a-picture
with your brilliant mouth shut. And satisfied.
Built in 1345, the Ponte Vecchio is the only surviving medieval bridge across the Arno River. During a catastrophic 1966 flood, people rescuing art from the bridge reported that the entire structure hummed like a musical instrument.
This poem has previously appeared in a Tennessee-based exhibition, 20/20 Focus on Italy: A Poetry Response to Photography, an ekphrastic project featuring the photography of Terry Price.
Kory Wells is the author of Sugar Fix, poetry from Terrapin Books. Her writing has been featured on The Slowdown podcast and appears in The Strategic Poet, The Southern Poetry Anthology, James Dickey Review, Ruminate, and elsewhere. A former software developer who now nurtures connection and community through the arts and advocacy, Kory mentors poets through the low residency program MTSU Write and has served as the poet laureate of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Her desk is always a mess, but she’s learned to pack light. https://korywells.com.