Louis de Bernières' "A Brit Falls in Love with the 10th Street Bridge"

by Shaun Hunter


Calgary through the eyes of writers

The Hillhurst (Louise) Bridge continues to carry the name of the deceased daughter of William H. Cushing, mayor of Calgary in 1900-01. According to the Calgary Herald of the day, Louise Cushing was considered "one of the best known young ladies of the city." (Photo: Calgary Public Library Alison Jackson Collection)

The Hillhurst (Louise) Bridge continues to carry the name of the deceased daughter of William H. Cushing, mayor of Calgary in 1900-01. According to the Calgary Herald of the day, Louise Cushing was considered "one of the best known young ladies of the city." (Photo: Calgary Public Library Alison Jackson Collection)

When it comes to the bridges spanning the Bow River, the poet notices the LRT crossing – “its whimsical red contraptions… perky, and adolescent, cheerful and innocent” and the Centre Street bridge and its lions, waving him “into Chinatown with ironic politesse.” When he notices the understated structure we call the Louise Bridge, he begins to fall in love. 

 

But once upon a morning, early, I noticed the 10th St. Bridge. I woke to the line of her arches flattened and softened, like breasts of a woman reclining, the line of her span, the modest curve of the shy girl who hunches her shoulders, and wears loose clothes, the better to hide that new paradise, that New-grown-land that mens’ eyes seek in passing. She is named Louise, she is prone to sulks, she is suspicious of flattery, she is easily hurt by teasing, she is wary of boys and confiding with girls, she doesn’t wear make-up because she has puritanical leanings, and at her age it’s self-defense, but really she wants to, and she will when she’s older, laughing, and saying “I’m not so serious now.”

 

Louis de Bernières, “A Brit Falls in Love with the 10th Street Bridge,” (Alberta Views, 1998)