It was, of course, bridge life:
the monk-like garb of old men,
their herring-boned elbows on the parapet,
at home with those ancient lichens
and warmed by their burning pipe fires.
They were limbs of trees left out for the cutting;
softened by rain, hardened by wind,
they were brittle grey grained men
whose conversations flowed in runnels
pocked with their growls and their laughter.
And it was the river flowing, weaving
their childhood and old years into a tweed:
a comfortable cloth, their cloth, the cloth
to warm their bones when the wind comes
that makes old teeth chatter.