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Weekly Feature- "On Foot"


This week's feature is from issue 50.1 called "On Foot" by Elizabeth Jacobson.

I was staying at a farmhouse with no doors on the door openings, no windows on the window openings. Every night I slid a dresser behind the curtains hanging in the bedroom door frame, then rolled the heavy oil filled space heater behind that.

This was near the Rio Grande gorge bridge, and most days I went to stand on the pedestrian walkway. Crisis hotline boxes had been installed at every pylon with signs: There Is Hope Make The Call. Underneath the signs were big red buttons which lit up at night. It is tempting to push a big red button when you see one! I put my fingertip on it and circled the circumference. At the gorge bridge, the barrier is low and it would be easy to hop up on a cross trail and dive over. I thought of my friend who wrote a poem about standing at the spot on the famous bridge in Minneapolis where a celebrated poet had leapt into the Mississippi. When I travel a bridge on foot, I always consider jumping, even if it is a low bridge and I simply want to cool my feet. Most people I imagine have this impulse.

I know two individuals who jumped from the gorge bridge. One was a friend of a friend who left a note saying he could not find another way up. The other, a seventeen-year-old, called his mother from the bridge to tell her he was going to jump. He waited the two hours it took for her to drive there, and as she ran pleading from her car, he leapt. Now she is trying to get the county to raise the railings, but I don't see how it matters. Anyone can walk to the rocky ledge of the gorge and soar into the ravine.

Getting back into the car, I remembered what my friend told me about that poet who dove to his death from the Minneapolis bridge. At the instant of his descent, he caught the eye of someone driving by, and he smiled, and he waved.