Sunday, October 30, 2011

Building Bridges


Something there is in me that loves a dry stone bridge,
That makes my heart swell as I look under it,
To see the upper boulders suspended in an arc,
To form a weightless path where even two can pass abreast over a gully or creek.
It's a work of wonder, it's is another thing altogether!
I have come to stand and stare
Where the voussoirs fit one stone against another stone,
No part of the bridge looks static.
It forms pleasing spaces. Even the gaps, I mean.

Not many have seen one made or heard of anyone still making them.
To see springers dressed on site, where you find them just laying there on the ground.


I let the waller neighbor know beyond the hill we plan to build one;
And on a day we meet that I might show him the line of the bridge we would like to build,
And then I begin to set the stones to span the gap to bring he and I closer once again.
I keep the idea of a friendly bridge in mind as I build.

The boulders that are randomly discarded about the hills will become useful.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
I have to use my wits to make them fit over the arch:
They will stay where they are, even after the form is taken out.
I wear my fingers rough with handling them.


'This is just another kind of out-door game'
(The one on the other side visits to make little of my work)
'Do we need a bridge at all?'

He is all formal and I am rustic.
My ideas may never get across.
I'm glad he does what he does so well, I tell him, I like his walls.
I only say, 'Good bridges make us good natured'.

Fall is the mischief in him, and he wonders
If he could put a notion in my head:
'Why do we have to be good natured or good neighbours? Isn't walling
Just a job. Shouldn't a bridge be something to connect a trail?
But here there is no trail. I see little reason that our lands should be connected .'
Before he built a bridge he'd ask to know
What was the point and what it will cost him.
He builds only to keep things out and make a fence with his stones.

Something there is that doesn't love a bridge,
That wants it not built.' I could say 'sour grapes' to him,
But it's not that exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good bridges don't necessarily make good neighbors."



(The poem Mending Fences by the famous American poet Robert Frost became the inspiration for me when I considered writing a poem about building bridges. It ended up being more of a humble rewrite of his beautiful piece about dry stone walls . I neither presume to have improved upon, nor wish to detract from, what he has written)

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