Main Street Bridge, Greensburg

by Jan Beatty

It’s not the elm and wild cherry
that rim the bridge on Main St, not

the double railroad tracks in the streambed,
the 30 ft boulders half-embedded in the massive

hillside—it’s the breeze you feel on the way up
the bridge walk, past the concrete and girders,

the tall chain-link. On a Monday at noon, you can
feel the whoosh of 10 trucks rolling past in

three minutes, the Mack hauling a front loader,
shaking the bottom as it rolls over Tunnel Street,

the independent contractors on the job: plumbers,
builders, pipe-haulers. What breeze is this? It’s

the hill, the walk up to Academy Hill, the museum
and Cultural District—Get Into It, the banners say!

In these relentless green spaces of the Sewickley
watershed, the slate streambed is sometimes

dry. But what keeps driving are the bodies:
people walking this concrete bridge, the woman

in lemon shorts and sandals carrying take-out,
groups of school children with teachers screaming

as they cross Main to keep them in line: “Don’t go
any further than the steps of the church.” The working

people of Greensburg, far but not separate from
their history of Arthur St. Clair, revolutionary and

friend to George Washington, democracy-loving
human, buried on North Maple—that’s it—

the humanness of it, that is the breeze, the air filled
with work, work, the doing. Connectors everywhere—

trains, walkers, trucks, watershed, green space, and two
churches on the south side. Everywhere you look,

grey, silver, brick, metal—the colors of
work. Two guys in blue bandanas watering the

Museum grounds, a lumber truck rolls through
and the whole bridge shakes. Greensburg rises

in big block letters to the South, the past clear
on the red bricks. What does this bridge carry,

what is embedded in this slant up the hill?
It’s the walking, one body at a time, past the red

bike rack on the left, past the steel overhang on
the East side, towards the Westmoreland Museum of

American Art. On the edges and down into the ravine:
dry sticks, moss, the big boulders. Two Cement

block barriers to stop trucks from flying over
the bridge. But that’s it, the flying. On the Allegheny

Plateau in the Appalachian foothills. It’s the air,
the people, flying up and down the bridge, the people

driving on the way to. It’s work, work, the air of it
the humans that make history alive. Look

South, you see signs for Routes spidering forth
in all directions, this is the way through

and out. This is the place of connection, with a
working St. Vincent de Paul store. The county seat,

the base. You can feel the here of it, but more
than that, the moving. The giant dome of the Courthouse,

cars five to ten years old, no Lamborghinis today,
but a young man with a messenger bag across his body,

his hair long and beautiful. He says hi as he walks
by, then vibration: OVERSIZE LOAD, CAT highloader.