Fences

April 30, 2012
By sofia.tong BRONZE, Brookline, Massachusetts
sofia.tong BRONZE, Brookline, Massachusetts
1 article 1 photo 0 comments

I used to wonder how the people walking by felt
When they looked out over the bridge at the river,
The river reflecting sun or glowing clouds down below them,
People all around, in daylight, or was the bridge empty?
Looking now at the little black fences that hold nothing.

Looking now at the black fences that hold back nothing,
Except the impulse of the broken tired hoping happy people,
And the rush and regret of a whoosh bath river,
And the anger and the power of mothers and fathers.
I sometimes wonder how everyone in that rippling pool felt.


The author's comments:
This was originally a class assignment as a response to the poem "Sympathy" by Paul Lawrence Dunbar. My English teacher asked the class to write about someone we felt sympathetic for, or someone about whom we wondered.

I used to live in Ithaca, New York, which is generally well known for two things: Cornell University and waterfalls, gorges, and hiking trails, many of which run through Cornell. In the 2009-2010 school year six Cornell students committed suicide by intentionally jumping off the bridges that crossed the gorges around Cornell. In response, Cornell put fences around all the bridges as a short-term way to stop the problem - and the fences are still there today.

I cannot possibly imagine what could push someone to take his or her life by jumping off a bridge.

This poem has two stanzas, five lines per stanza, and ten words per line. I found working under this structure more stimulating and challenging than constraining, surprisingly.

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