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The Venetian Bridge

The stones and arches cross an ancient river and lie hidden now behind a junked car and a patch of bamboo. The Trimethos River has changed course and a new bridge spans it on the main road out of town. The echoes of Count Gibelet’s horses, his soldiers, the burdened donkeys carrying loads of carobs and swinging leather pouches of wine, the monks from Constantinople, the Russian pilgrims off ships from Syria, the invaders with their broad swords, a carriage full of women, its window flaps down pulled by white horses, they have all passed over where I now kneel knee deep in mayweed and scarlet pimpernel. When we asked the shopkeeper at the church store up the road where we could find the bridge, he told us just down the road apiece. “We should really raise the money to fix it up,” he added.  It wasn’t hard to find. We could see the ancient stonewalls follow the waterway from the new bridge to a patch of bamboo, a rusted Morris Minor and farther down shaded by giant fennel and stately juniper the hint of arches. We drove to the far side of the river, climbed a wall, followed it, and stood on the pebbled road. The water rushed beside us on its way to the sea and the archway stood dry. The early spring sun cast a spell as we joined the tallies and lists of those who over the centuries have crossed the Venetian bridge near the town with the church that angels built, on an island in the midst of the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

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