chicago skyway bridge.jpg

Chicago Skyway Bridge at the Calumet River & Interstate 94, 1969

by M.K. Metz

After midnight when traffic thins
out, three young dykes snake the catwalk
on steel mounts over the murky sludge.
The truss bridge, towering, criss-crossed
cantilever struts, looming rust pocked beams.
The sky soots vapor under which vehicle lights ribbon.
Aerosol paint cans bob in our back pockets,
armed for the revolution. We spray
across the girded horizontal slab:
as Josie’s jittery little sister
mans the Chevy on the 92nd Street approach
ready to flash one for clear, two for run.
An ore truck barrels northeast
towards the yellow smut of Indiana’s steel mills
billows our jackets out. While south side blue collars
twitch in their sleep haunted by not knowing
when or where the sparks of change will next ignite.
We finish painting, huddle under advancing headlights
to the car. Three sticky fluorescent paint cans
lobbed into the abyss. From inside the Chevy
the engine rallies, hi fives and hallelujahs abound.
From inside the Chevy the city across the bridge
could be the island of Lesbos, an army
of lovers, amazons, warriors, viragos,
all passing as straight women at desk jobs
in the loop’s skyscrapers, a glittery Sapphic crown.
At a north side gay bar the disco dance floor
empties. Dawn creeps in to the city of big shoulders,
the one we hoped for, graffiti manifestos
greeting sleepy-eyed commuters,
nudging the sluggish arc of history forward.

M.K. Metz is a visual artist and poet. She has an MFA from California Institute of the Arts and has had fellowships at Skowhegan and Macdowell Colony. She studies poetry with Phillip Schultz and Lisa Bellamy at The Writers Studio in New York City.