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'Someone Just Like You'

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Joyce Sutphen
Joyce Sutphen is Minnesota's poet laureate and a professor of English at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn.
Image courtesy Poetry Foundation

By Joyce Sutphen

Joyce Sutphen is Minnesota's poet laureate and a professor of English at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn.

Whoever you were — crossing the bridge
earlier in the day — you went from one side
to the other, barely noticing the river, 
the way you were held up in the sky
by a fragile and faulty design. 

You crossed over, one car in a lane
of blue, silver, and black, tapping your
fingers on the wheel, changing the station
to catch the weather report, picking up your
cell phone to say you were on the way home.

You were early that day — or a bit later, 
  but everything else was about the same, 
though the bridge shook slightly, a bird
flew out from beneath the railing, 
someone looked up and saw a flash of blue.

It only took a minute and you were
headed North or South, and someone
else was crossing — someone just like you, 
feeling the sky falling, the world collapsing
beneath them, that other side now
more impossible than the moon. 

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Joyce Sutphen's "Someone Just Like You" is part of "Bridge: A Gathering," a chapbook of seven new poems by Minnesota poets commissioned by Rain Taxi Review of Books. The chapbook, offering poems reflecting on the I-35W bridge collapse, will be presented tonight at an event at the Mill City Museum. The event is sold out, but the exhibit "Bridge," with photographs by Vance Gellert, will remain on view for the rest of the year.