In memory of Antonio Varacalli, 1898-1917
We need no half-drowned angel to rearrange time,
to ring in once-and-future deafened ears. We know
how everything matters. Plunge of a wing. Snow.
The bridge in this movie spans a real northern town.
Added to the script by Capra, after learning from parenti
of the Italian man—almost a boy—who saw a girl fall,
shed his coat, swam into deep waters to save her.
He bore her to the Seneca Canal shore. She lived:
he became a star in memory. A plaque. An award.
A crumpled flower. A bell on a Christmas tree.
A hundred years on, thousands of people throng
that bridge—walking, running—a race and a tribute.
Along the path, townsfolk offer food and drink.
The glare of neon fades into grills and braziers.
We are halfway between Bedford and Pottersville:
the kindness of community, the chill greed of despair.
Calling to anything familiar, the old savings
and loan of our lives, sliding the whole way home.
Angele Ellis is a writer and editor who has dear family in Seneca Falls, New York. For more on the story behind this poem: https://www.wonderfullifemuseum.com/seneca-falls-history-and-connections/Copyright 2019 Angele Ellis