Saturday, 7 August 2010

Issue seven// Alana I. Capria

False Bridges

There is a bridge that we come to in our travels. Its facade is polished steel. We see our own faces. They are our faces. They are not our faces. They are our dopplegangers, our naughty doubles loosening bolts and tension wires. We eat their smiles with mustard and oil-based lubricants, a sprinkle of sea salt and then a dash of burned brown sugar. Our faces warn us walking across false bridges, how the bottoms will give out as we move and the cables snap without the slightest ping ping sound. In those moments, we feel very much like children. We push against one another. The bridges rise out of the ground, growing like ivy, metal leaves budding off a single fertile line. They are blossoms of iron edged mouths. They collapse instead of fall.

A man wakes at night convinced he has been surrounded by many snapping bridges. They bite at his groin and throat. They devour ears with a single swipe of their reptilian tongues. The man cannot stop screaming although his shouts make no sound. The bridges have cloven feet and tails that wind around their bases. Are you angels, he asks the bridges. They stand over him and drip molten metal onto his face. You are branded, they say and he sighs in relief.

Dorothy and her friends do not know what to make of the bridge that the golden road culminates in. The bridge growls when they approach. It is painted green, like tarnished copper. I demand a sacrifice, the bridge says and the girl pushes the Scarecrow forward. The bridge eats hay. I have had a starch. Now I desire meat, the bridge says and so Dorothy stabs her lion friend until he is cut into several slabs of raw meat. The bridge groans. Where are my utensils, the bridge asks and the girl grinds the tinman into a fork and knife, makes herself a cleaver and rolling pin for later in her travels.

Monsters live below the bridge. Trolls and goblins. They eat children that belong to families and torture the ones that don't. Add insult to injury. These fangs are cruel. And the claws. Those vulture beaks, pecking at stone even with everyone watching. Oh, creature men and vampire fools. Burn the bridges. Knock them down. Snap their lines.

False bridges spring up in our closets for barren women and hunchbacked men to cross. They eat entire ladders in one swallow and shit out metal balls without hunching down. An iceman walks forward, wearing only underwear. His jaw falls to his feet. He snorts lines of cockroaches. He shimmies up chimney stacks and gobbles masquerade bridges.

A man tells us to burn all the bridges that we pass and come to. Pour the gasoline and light a match. He says that skeletons are caught in the concrete work and it is our job to jackhammer them free. They cannot writhe as the dead should. We are meant to pity them. But we don't. Only the bridges. Everything is about the bridges.

Sometimes we throw bridges. We do not look to see where they land but simply measure how high they reach. Whoever penetrates the horizon is the winner. The bridges do not know any better. They lift up and fly when we say the word. They are needy, dependent on our bodies for travel. We give them severed feet and they roll onto their bellies.

Little girls wear false bridges as Mardi Gras masks. They are heavy with sequins and feathers. The girls paint the steel arches bright purple and green. They do not wait for the paint to dry before putting these bridge masks on. Men crawl through the eye holes to see what places they can reach by simply extending their spines beyond their pubic reaches.

We find bridges that are pixilated beyond recognition. We can only tell the white and black squares apart. When they merge into gray circles, we pull the bridges apart. We stretch them so that they hover over deserts. Cacti sprout from the grating. The needles deflate many tires. Soon, the bridge is simply an elevated expanse of road covered with car carcasses and spare tires. Black and white. A bit of color that fades into gray. The in-between moments we ignore.

We ask the false bridges where they came from. They ponder this question for hours but eventually shake with ignorance. We try to cross them but are not able to get past the first mile. The bridges stretch on forever. They carry us from horizon to horizon without giving us a chance to stop. Over time, the bridges resemble a face, bruised and swollen by constant beating. We ask the bridges if they would like us to stop but they squint their features. Walk on, they say. Bury your heel.

© Alana I. Capria 2010
25-year-old Alana I. Capria is a candidate in the MFA in Creative Writing programme at Fairleigh Dickinson University. She resides in Northern New Jersey with her fiance and rabbits, and her works are available here.