“Gift me your heart”: Love locks across the Rhine.
I only see one at first–it’s a bright cobalt blue, of standard size and shape, with an unexpected engraving on its side:
Sara & Dennis 29.08.08.
I hold onto it for a moment, the curved silver neck of its shackle looped around the stiff wire fence along Cologne’s Hohenzollernbrücke railway bridge, before spotting another.
Then another. And another. Each with two names (or initials) and a date etched into their sides:
Nicole and Andre 10.9.99
Thomas & Simone 22 Juli 2000
Beale & Michael 20.08.2010
This last one is followed by a short phrase, schenk mir dein Herz…, which Google so eloquently translates as, “gift me your heart.” The closer I get to the center of the bridge, the more locks there are clustered together, each fighting for space on the fence like commuters determined to keep a hold on the handrail during rush hour.
What I don’t know at the time is that these “love locks” are part of an international tradition of inscribing both your and your lover’s names onto a lock, securing it to a bridge (or monument) and then tossing the keys into the river below, as if to say: there’s no going back from here.
Nothing like keeping your love under lock and key, ay?
From the Pont de l’Archevêché in Paris to the Rialto in Venice, there hardly seems to be a famous bridge that hasn’t been claimed by couples eager to profess their love to the world. And so as I thought about a photo or two with which to celebrate this extra-lovely day, my mind kept going back to these locks in Cologne…
Happy Valentine’s day!