Body/Mind … On the Chattanooga Bridge, Chattanooga, TN

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Body/Mind … On the Chattanooga Bridge, Chattanooga, TN

  • Sebastian Matthews

    Sebastian Matthews is a writer and collagist living in Asheville. He teaches creative writing for the Great Smokies Writing Program. His third collection of poetry, Beginner's Guide to a Head-On...

Chattanooga Walking Bridge, Sundown

The body is walking—I’ll say striding—across the elegant, wood-planked boulevard spanning this wide and openhearted river: the center of a trio of bridges. It’s late afternoon; the light paints the sky a backlit blue screen riffled by breeze.

After a reading in a series of readings, already melting into last night’s readings, mind and body have escaped the conference throng, where, exhausted, they plunk down on a tired couch next to a fellow mind/body, together letting the microphoned words from the other room run into them like the first shudder sip of single malt, minds drifting together for a moment before coming to land.

There is a parade of bodies thronging the bridge, each body bathed on one side by sun glaze. No one is in a rush. No one on his or her cell. So the body keeps walking, off the bridge and into the city, while the mind takes snapshots inside the massive tombstones of commerce it floats through. Come morning, the mind will take the body out for a walk, this time on the far bridge, to float atop an island of trees, for a bird’s eye view of the birds; and later, on another walk the body will ask a blind man for directions to Central and MLK, and he’ll point the way.

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But now the mind is hooked into the body—one could say subsumed in it—and together the lovers keep walking out, for a moment in perfect balance, onto the bridge’s spine.