Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 5
Spring 2012

[One Poem]

Susan Hogan

The Ping Bridge

We kissed for the first time the night before,
after having been friends from childhood
through our mid-twenties. We didn’t know
what it meant that we had kissed. I’d confessed
after, that I’d always wanted to. He said,
“Let’s not tell anybody about this.”

I thought the swing would go over 
the top bar. How could I still feel that way
knowing, as an adult, that it couldn’t?
He swung beside me, lower. The sky was black.
Underneath us, Chinese characters were carved
into the concrete. In front of us shone the Chicago River.

He stepped off the swing. I jumped. The gates were locked.
“Do you think we could climb over?” “No,
let’s take the bridge.” “The bridge?” My fingers trembled.
Atop it, the little house stood dark. The vertical lift bridge.
The railway bridge. “Are you sure?” He was walking
towards it, glanced quickly for a train, began to cross.

I followed, my feet feeling heavy 
on the railroad tracks. The river glistened below.
I imagined myself jumping into it,
should a train come, or would I be paralyzed
with fear, splattered, and for what?
We were silent. I focused on his back.

My fear subsided. We remained silent.
The bridge was longer than I’d thought.
I’ve kissed him, I told myself, watching his back.
I can die now that I’ve kissed him.
I can die now that I’ve kissed him.
And we crossed it, and we kept walking.


End Bug Issue 5

Susan Hogan

Photo of Susan Hogan by Joanna Aloysia Patterson
Photograph by
Joanna Aloysia Patterson

Is a poet who lives the life of a nomad—Chicagoan by day, Californian by night, she collects beauty and excitement wherever she is and spreads it outwards through her poetry. She has had poems and translations published in Alchemy Journal, Inner Art, San Diego Poetry Annual, Prairie Light Review, and others.

She is resident poet of the Caffeine Arts Collective, and serves as contributing editor for Poetry International. Keep up with her at

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury