VERTICAL BRIDGES               

                 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

                               

Poems and Photographs of City Steps by Paola Corso 

(Six Gallery Press, 2020)

 

VERTICAL BRIDGES
 

My Pittsburgh childhood: the hills where we lived,

the river valley where my Southern Italian immigrant

family worked in a steel mill, glass plant, and mirror works

along the Allegheny.

 

The river where my friends and I jumped in

by swinging on a rope that hung from a tree

along the bank. 

 

Where my dad and his siblings were thrown in

to learn how to swim or sink.

 

River that floods.

 

Where my great uncle as a boy went fishing

on high waters one Easter and drowned

trying to save his friend's life.  

 

River polluted.

 

Bridges to cross.

 

Then came a day I looked up to the hills and saw    

what’s between:  steps.

 

Pittsburgh is a triangle, a confluence of rivers,

but my geometric view of the city began to take

a different shape. 

 

The perpendicular—where horizontal meets vertical.

City steps and steps in the city. People climbing them.

Sitting on them. Shoveling and painting them.

           

Steps to admire for their architectural beauty.

 

Steps my grandfather, a stone mason from Sicily, built.

Steps my Calabrian father climbed to and from the steel mill.                                                                          The more I saw, the more I realized what I had overlooked   

since childhood, what had come to draw my attention and why. 

 

Steps are vertical bridges, and I want to cross them.

 

As connections in the landscape.

 

Connections we make with each other.

 

That middle ground where we meet.

                                          

 

LOVE’S LADDER

in memory of Xu Chaoqing and Liu Guojiang                                                                                             

 

Jiangjin, Chongqing, China

 

Ask yourself                                                                                                                                                         what you would do for love.

For over 50 years                                                                                                                                                       a man chiseled 6000 steps

out of rock                                                                                                                                                             from the village Gaotan

to the mountaintop                                                                                                                                          where he and a shunned woman

ten years older                                                                                                                                                      fled to live in seclusion.

Grass and roots for food,                                                                                                                               walnuts and dates,

fish caught, leaves                                                                                     

ground into flour.

A kerosene lamp for light,                                                                                     

two wooden stools,                                                               

and their embrace                                                                                                          

to warm the chill of night.

It was rare for her to climb                                                                                                        

down and face village gossip.

Some say the times she did                                                                                       

were for her husband,                                                                                                

so the soles of her feet                                                                                                            

would touch                                                                                                                                         

every slab he carved                                                                                                      

with loving hands.

 

Read a Book Review.

 

Order from Amazon. 

Copyright © 2020 Paola Corso. All Rights Reserved.

 pAOLA CORSO

For any inquiries, please contact Paola Corso:

© 2020 by Paola Corso

  • White Twitter Icon
  • White Facebook Icon
  • White Instagram Icon
  • Black Twitter Icon
  • Black Facebook Icon
  • Black Instagram Icon
This site was designed with the
.com
website builder. Create your website today.
Start Now