Feb 26Liked by Pádraig Ó Tuama, Poetry Unbound

In Newfoundland the term for veranda or a wooden entrance to a house is called a “Bridge”. It is a nautical term. Like the bridge of a ship. It is often a gathering place in the summer. To gather on the bridge to look out to sea. To play music. To have a beer with friends. Or sometimes just to collect your thoughts.

Expand full comment
Feb 26Liked by Pádraig Ó Tuama, Poetry Unbound

The 4 short films made by 4 Autistic individuals facilitated by the BBC as the focus of their Inside our Autistic Minds programme. The films combined footage of the individuals, animation, graphics, sounds, spoken words, rap and music to provide a bridge between their private experience of the world and the people they share their lives with....and us the viewers. These short films have not only helped build a bridge of understanding between the individuals making them and the world but me as an Autistic person and hopefully my loved ones when I pluck up the courage to ask if they have watched them. I am finding myself wondering what form my short film would take if I could make one. I like to paint and draw. I am learning that all art is an attempt to communicate something, even if it is as simple as "please look at this" A bridge is the perfect metaphor for that. Sometimes the bridge connects parts of ourselves and sometimes it connects us with others.

Expand full comment
Feb 26Liked by Pádraig Ó Tuama, Poetry Unbound

I remember thinking about painting before I started painting. My wife encouraged me to paint, but my first efforts were "failures" in my mind. I had no technical ability with the brush or the paint in a way that I could identify and give hope to my interest and desire.

But we would duck in and out of galleries on Cape Cod during our week-long summer get-aways, and eventually I noticed the work of Larry Horowitz. Beautiful oil paintings and pastel paintings of landscapes that were immediate to the senses and generous in the thickness of paint and saturation of color. And when I got up close to them a thought occurred to me, "It's only paint." That's it. Just that.

What it meant to me was that when one gets close to a painting and the larger composition disappears and you're left with just the paint, we are all of us doing the same thing. We are using a certain material in a certain way to convey an idea, and maybe it's as simple as that. This was my way in, or as you say, Padraig, my bridge across. The language / the image / the music. These are big ideas and important ones. But as words start with letters, and sentences with words, and paragraphs with sentences, etc... a painting starts with marks made of paint. The language will create an image, and the music, from time to time, is present as well.

Larry's work was the bridge before me, and sometimes still is when I'm lost and need a way across. Someday I should let him know.

Expand full comment
Feb 26Liked by Pádraig Ó Tuama, Poetry Unbound

good morning all and thank you, Pádraig, as always for your joyful wisdom. for me, Wislawa Szymborska's beautiful poem Life While-You-Wait is the poem that most speaks to me now, as i inhabit this very unexpected and arduous bridge crossing on which i find myself. i hope it's okay to share the poem here. this one is a beauty.


Wislawa Szymborska

Life While-You-Wait.

Performance without rehearsal.

Body without alterations.

Head without premeditation.

I know nothing of the role I play.

I only know it’s mine. I can’t exchange it.

I have to guess on the spot

just what this play’s all about.

Ill-prepared for the privilege of living,

I can barely keep up with the pace that the action demands.

I improvise, although I loathe improvisation.

I trip at every step over my own ignorance.

I can’t conceal my hayseed manners.

My instincts are for happy histrionics.

Stage fright makes excuses for me, which humiliate me more.

Extenuating circumstances strike me as cruel.

Words and impulses you can’t take back,

stars you’ll never get counted,

your character like a raincoat you button on the run —

the pitiful results of all this unexpectedness.

If only I could just rehearse one Wednesday in advance,

or repeat a single Thursday that has passed!

But here comes Friday with a script I haven’t seen.

Is it fair, I ask

(my voice a little hoarse,

since I couldn’t even clear my throat offstage).

You’d be wrong to think that it’s just a slapdash quiz

taken in makeshift accommodations. Oh no.

I’m standing on the set and I see how strong it is.

The props are surprisingly precise.

The machine rotating the stage has been around even longer.

The farthest galaxies have been turned on.

Oh no, there’s no question, this must be the premiere.

And whatever I do

will become forever what I’ve done.

Expand full comment
Feb 26Liked by Pádraig Ó Tuama, Poetry Unbound

"If two people argue, they are said to be split—like firewood, they say—but both sides are still of the same wood."

This, for me, is a bridge between truths. Also a reminder that both things can be true.

From Secrets of the Talking Jaguar: A Mayan Shaman's Journey to the Heart of the Indigenous Soul, by Martín Prechtel. The whole book is magic. Hard recommend.

Expand full comment
Feb 26·edited Feb 26Liked by Pádraig Ó Tuama, Poetry Unbound

Yesterday my 32-year old son called me and shared the pain of his growing up as an adopted child in our family. On the one hand it was difficult to hear his perceptions and experiences and on the other it was a gift to both of us - I was able to listen fully to him and hopefully he was able to feel heard.

I see this dialogue and moment in time as a bridge from mother and son to human being to human being. As a parent I am constantly reminded that I tried to do my best and that regardless of my intentions and efforts, my children will carry a wound or wounds with them into adulthood and they will be challenged to work to heal that wound for the rest of their lives. This keeps me humble, for sure!

My study of, work with and teaching of the Enneagram has been a bridge for me for over 26 years. It has given me a framework from which to heal my wounds and to build an inner container from which to live my life.

Expand full comment
Feb 26Liked by Pádraig Ó Tuama, Poetry Unbound

I began writing Haiku on a lonely afternoon high on a bluff...now it has become the Bridge to express my inner emotions to me; and as I walk across to the other side , there is a deep loving calmness .

Expand full comment
Feb 26Liked by Pádraig Ó Tuama, Poetry Unbound

Edward Hopper’s painting “The Lighthouse at Two Lights” in Cape Elizabeth, Maine hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. For me, the painting bridges calm and storm, safety and danger, light and shadow, nurture and nature, wilderness and city, private and public, family I never knew and family I know. My great grandfather was the keeper of the light from 1934-1946.

(I tried to paste a photo of him in the lantern room here but the app doesn’t seem to accent photos.)

Ashes of beloved family members are scattered at sea beyond the rocky shore at the base of the light. The lighthouse itself and the painting of the light are both family monuments and sources of comfort for me.

Expand full comment
Feb 26·edited Feb 26Liked by Pádraig Ó Tuama, Poetry Unbound

The Hebrew word for bridge is "gesher" and it is often used to describe a middle path or transition between two states of being (for example, it's a popular name for programs serving teens). But perhaps the most beloved and well-known usage comes from the sayings of the 18th c. Eastern European master Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, who said (translated): "The whole world is a very narrow bridge. The important thing is not to be afraid."

Expand full comment
Feb 26Liked by Pádraig Ó Tuama, Poetry Unbound

"language that creates a bridge" what a wonderful way to describe the importance of our words !

W.S. Merwin's brief poem, "Separation" was that for me.

"Your absence goes through me like thread through a needle and everything I do is stitched with its color."

The imagery of absence as a thread that stitches itself through me with color grabbed me after our son's death as the perfect weaving of gratitude & joy with unbearable loss. This image felt so true and gave me a way of trying to live within the contradiction that wouldn't go away. That is what bridges do, I think. They create a possibility that didn't seem to be there. Another way to talk about the power of healing heartbreak.

Words as bridges . . . I love it !

Expand full comment
Feb 26Liked by Pádraig Ó Tuama, Poetry Unbound

Last year I became familiar with John O’Donohue’s work and it touched me more than any other writing has. I take it in, little by little, afraid to miss something. My husband gave me, To Bless the Space Between Us, as a birthday gift just a few days ago because I had to be away from home on my birthday. Today, on my birthday, I started the day by reading “For Your Birthday”. The final stanza-

On this echoing day of your birth, May you open the gift of solitude, In order to receive your soul; Enter the generosity of silence, To hear your hidden heart; Know the serenity of stillness, To be enfolded anew, By the miracle of your being”

Finding and loving John O’Donohue’s work was a bridge to this time of solitude and gratefulness. A bridge to a moment of appreciation for my life. (And my husband)

Expand full comment
Feb 26Liked by Poetry Unbound

After my son died at 21, I was lost in a morass of grief for a long time. I did not believe that I would survive, not in any way that had room for meaning or joy. Breathing, the first faltering steps at meditation, helped. But I did not have any faith in much beyond surviving. When I read Mary Oliver's poem "In Blackwater Woods," particularly the last few lines, I felt a bridge appear before me, and I stepped onto it. Here are those last lines:

Every year


I have ever learned

in my lifetime

leads back to this : the fires

and the black river of loss

whose other side

is salvation,

whose meaning

none of us will ever know.

To live in this world

you must be able

to do three things:

to love what is mortal;

to hold it

against your bones knowing

your own life depends on it;

and, when the time comes to let it go,

to let it go.

Expand full comment
Feb 26Liked by Pádraig Ó Tuama, Poetry Unbound

Metal and rock music from the later 80s to early 00s is my bridge to my anger on the days I prefer feeling over sublimation.

Not the highest art form, nor the music I listen to every day, but I’m so grateful for their writhing, their rhythm that releases the emotions roiling inside me.

Expand full comment
Feb 26Liked by Poetry Unbound

The space between the stars

The silence between the notes

The breath before the words are spoken

Silence is, often, for me, the bridge. The art of that silence impactful.

Expand full comment
Feb 26Liked by Pádraig Ó Tuama, Poetry Unbound

This is so beautiful. I love your insights on this. For me the art that builds a bridge is photography. I use photography as a core spiritual practice personally but I also use it as a way to connect with other people. In my ministry, as a pastor, I often use photography as a way into conversations around challenging topics. I also use it in a way to help people enter deeper into their experience or their feelings.

Expand full comment
Feb 26Liked by Pádraig Ó Tuama, Poetry Unbound

I love the image of a bridge and how much it evokes! As an undergraduate, I read a book that became an inspirational bible of sorts - an anthology of writings by women of color entitled, This Bridge Called My Back. I’ve thought about myself as a bridge over the decades, the worlds I straddle, the worlds that live in me, that enable others to move from one side to another to see other views ... Reading this wonderful prompt, I am flooded with memories of poems that have done this for me, many, many are thanks to you, Pádraig and poetry unbound. But one other that comes to mind: Frida Kahlo’s painting Broken Column bridged me (bridges me) when I was lost in a land of victimhood, of feeling less-than because of illness, to a land of strength and beauty and courage, where scars are beautiful, and creative; where art flourishes, where life expands.

Expand full comment