When I first set foot on the plank bridge over Queset Brook forty-nine years ago, I saw a kingfisher. I haven't seen one since.
But I've seen pretty much everything else. The bridge is an emperor's loge, the catbird's seat. If I stand there for five minutes something wonderful is sure to appear. A box turtle. A monarch butterfly. A fleet of whirligigs. The orange flash of an oriole. And there, oh there, among the water lilies where the brook splays into the pond, a heron, watching with its glittering eye.
Forty-nine years and the day is as fresh as yesterday. The spider feasts on midges. The strider does its Jesus walk. The perch lurks in shadows. And we, says the poet Rilke, are here only to say: House, bridge, fountain, gate..
To speak for the mute earth.
Forty-nine years. That's why I'm here on the plank bridge. That's why we're here on this earth. To give the cosmos a voice. A stuttering voice, perhaps, but a voice. Praise the world, this world, to the Angel, says Rilke, do not tell him the untellable.
…Show himHouse, bridge, fountain, gate. Redwing. Black snake. Mist. Star.
some simple thing, remolded by age after age,
till it lives in our hands and eyes as part of ourselves.
Tell him things. He'll stand more astonished.