A warm summer day it was when Miss J. Thorp,
visiting her friend Miss E. Clarke,
drank root beer in an iced mug
up upon the Clarke’s widow’s walk.
They watched the daring men jump
and wrestle huge screws as they assembled
the new iron bridge over the Speed.
The men were closely supervised by none other than Mr. John Watt
a very handsome man, if there ever was one, with his long moustaches.
Everyone knew that Breakneck Bridge had been due
to be replaced for years.
Dr. Clarke had apparently said that £700 was a reasonable sum.
The girls had a hard time imagining that much money
or what they could, breathless, buy with it.
But there were holes clear through in places
and it was hard to get the horses to slow down after Eramosa Hill.
Emilia Thurtell had a large bruise
from when their trap had suddenly stopped
as their filly had broken her leg there in the Fall.
But Elizabeth and Jane, both whispering,
were sure Emilia was too much of a complainer.
As the root beer diminished in their mugs
the chatter turned to how the construction could interfere
with the ice in the channel.
Would the wood supports be gone by the next winter?
Elizabeth said her brother thought so.
Jane hoped so.
It wasn’t where the chaperoned skating occurred of course.
That was downriver where it was wider by the Priory.
They liked to tie on their skates sitting back to back
on the stump and using the fence to hold them up.
But in the narrows on this side of Eramosa was where the boys
preferred to play hockey.
A sudden gust came up the river
and brought a heron winging overhead
long wings out
languidly flapping below the tree tops
but over the highest iron arch
and unconcerned with the enterprise below.
As if it didn’t care.
But the girls watched, silent, for only a moment.
Mr. Watt, his silver watch out, yelled ‘Lunch’ to the men
and, spell broken, the girls’ banter began again.