haibun
A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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December 2006, vol 2 no 4

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J. Marcus Weekley

Climbing the Remains of the Bridge

The day before Christmas last year, my younger brother and I ventured down to the ruins of the Ocean Springs Bridge. He'd been in Mississippi during Hurricane Katrina, while I was at school in Texas. Our dad's house, and the family, had remained intact. But the neighborhood looked like a giant had gone rampaging over the countryside, felling houses and trees alike, stringing cars, family photos, and anything in between through the mud. The bridge fared just as badly, like the broken backbone of a dinosaur, half in, half out of the brown bay.

We talked about Dad as we started climbing over huge abstractly sculptural pieces of concrete and rusted rebar. Neither of us knew of Dad's cancer yet, but I asked my brother if he would ever tell Dad about his liking guys, and he said no, never.

At one point, my brother jumped to a place I wouldn't. "Come on," he said. But I knew I wouldn't make it if I tried. "Alright, you stay here. I'm going to see what's over there." Instead, I took a picture of him climbing, further out.

He eventually came back and later, Dad told me they're going to rebuild the Ocean Springs Bridge, but don't expect it to be finished for another year, maybe two. Then my brother joined the Army in January, without warning anyone, and shipped out to Iraq this past September. I wonder if he'll make the same mistakes Dad and I have made together, if he'll get the chance.

murky bay water
New Year is next week
my brother laughs