Burnside Bridge on the Willamette

Heart of stone1

David Bar-Tzur

We face each other, straddling
the rail of the Burnside Bridge2:
Portland's heart of stone. We hover
as the South, cold-blooded, flows into the North,
as traffic pulses East, then West.

He used to straddle me, probing my entrails for a center.
Blood would rush to my ass, hoping to feed him soul-nourishment.
His cock an umbilicus, omphallic.
We'd rock like mother nursing child until milk flowed.
But the milk was ever his, and I the only one nourished.

Now he sits here, thirsting.
But not for my embrace.
He has a thirst for water.
And heaviness of heart makes him slip from me
and into the Willamette.

My heart
with him.


  1. Image: Burnside Bridge information.

  2. The Burnside Bridge is the cartographic center of Portland, Oregon, where the poem was written. It connects East and West Portland over the Willamette River. Burnside Ave, a "home" for many homeless, runs across the bridge and separate North and South Portland.