Sunday, April 12, 2009

Three Bridges

In the following poem, which in part concerns bridges, I use the word doppelganger, the fine German word for "[the] double," as in Jeckyll/Hyde, except the a which spans the space between g and n is supposed to have an umlaut, those two dots. The Blogger menu doesn't seem to include its own drop-down insert-symbol menu, so I attempted to import the word (via cut and paste) with the umlaut, but it was refused.

The word was stopped at the border by Customs guards. There must be some kind of tariff on umlauts or something. I didn't want to surrender doppelganger, so I went with the hideous approximation, doppelgaenger. I think this is what's known as a trivial problem.

When I studied German, I was told that, to create the umlaut-a sound, one should should say "a" while lifting the tongue as if one were saying "e," and it seems to work, generating the proper blend of a and e. Of course, even when I seemed to get it right, I didn't sound like a German, just close enough for linguistic horse-shoes.

Incidentally, some people refer to the wrecked Tacoma Narrows Bridge as Galloping Gertie. I just thought I'd mention that.

Three Bridges

You select one item from a mail-order
catalogue. The company sends two
in error. You open the package and feel
delighted, confused, and disappointed
all at once. You may feel similarly

looking at the redundancy of two
parallel suspension-bridges that
now span the Narrows next to
Tacoma. The second Tacoma Narrows

Bridge is the third, the first one lying
now under water, which is, for bridges,
Hell not baptism. Wind that killed
the first bridge plays the new bridges
like harps. Octopi strum the wreckage
of the old bridge in strong cold currents.

You may feel as if two bridges together
are one bridge too many, a failed
engineering success, a planned excess,
a doppelgaenger of spans.

Copyright 2009 Hans Ostrom
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