Monday, August 27, 2007

Brooklyn Bridge

I didn't take my camera with me so have no pictures - I can't run and hold stuff. Two days in a row over the Brooklyn Bridge and with half an hour's difference in starting-time, the change in the light profound. I must have left home at about 6.30 this evening and would have arrived there around 6.45, with clouds beyond the southern tip of Manhattan, over Jersey, diffusing the striking light, pinkening it, so that the whole of Manhattan stretching northward, grounded by the Empire State Building and offset by the smaller Chrysler, appeared in staggered layers of colour-depth, sepia against bronze and against rose, against grey and silver, against highlights of orange, and southward against the slate green peculiar to the East River and the buildings fronting it in the Financial District, with Dumbo in Brooklyn still in transparent yellow, its blues deepened, its park defined to the blades of grass lying under picnic blankets and the water on the raked pebble beach throwing again and again a tiny clear, dark wave. Contrast this with the flat backdrop of humid summer days when the air is thick with moisture and heat and each particle adds to the flattening of the skyline, the oppressiveness of the city, making seem impossible the layers of dimension and possibility brought by the cooler weather.

I have seen this view so many times and wondered again at the nature of beauty, the foundations of land and water obscured by successive risings of brick, iron, metal, cable, painted, stripped, embossed, crossed by bridgespans, elevated by concrete, isolated by deep water, lightened by the wakes of the ferries and barges and tugs passing constantly beneath. On the horizon the prehistoric structures of the cranes that unload docked container ships, like dinosaurs come to the water to drink, in Brooklyn, in Jersey, in pink. The Statue of Liberty copper green and shining in the bay, speaking to the trees on Governor's Island, Brooklyn Heights and my own Cobble Hill standing opposite Wall Street, across water, in ranks of red brick against the glacial green glass. Beauty entirely manufactured.

The bridge a passage and destination, people constantly stopped in their tracks, on this their only visit, dodged by cyclists and ordinary pedestrians who pass this way every day, as they stand with cameras pointed at the massive arches, Gothic and cathedral-like with the cables soaring successively higher, the sun now catching the stone at the summit as it breaks free for moments before the cloud returns us again to this blessing of Western light.


  1. I love the picture of cranes as dinosaurs coming to the water to drink. You see, I knew you had your camera with you. ;-))

  2. Long exposure...
    You'll do better.


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