Rodd Whelpley

Something about a bridge

that each time you cross,
you look down, unsure the water
will still be there.
Or else as if to gauge whether today
the pool finally swelled
to leaping depth, for falling
to what end you never know.
God didn’t trouble these waters.
People did, upstream,
choking the flow,
leaving here inches–
barely atmosphere
for Jesus bugs
and crayfish.

Like those living
under that other bridge,
a different creek, the water
you caressed, moving a stone
but not its mud, revealing him.
Insinuated your hands below the surface,
perching one abaft, the other in front,
then closing like a stern curtain
before his eyestalk, his flailing
antenna, until that champion
of backward propulsion shot
into the gentle hand he
had no sense to sense.

Today, in the thinning trickle
shadows of things thrown over:
a set of tires, a Remington–
typewriter, not a gun–
the refuse of ways
those before you
tried to go. And also,
as under every bridge,
that unseen old crustacean
you once held, a pet
in your childish grasp.


Rodd Whelpley manages an electric efficiency program for 32 cities across Illinois and lives near Springfield. His poems have appeared in Tinderbox Poetry Journal, 2River View, Star 82 Review, Barren, Menacing Hedge and other journals. Catch as Kitsch Can, his first chapbook, was published in 2018. Find him at