About the Poem
About the poet
Diana Bridge introduces her second collection of poems, The Girls on the Wall (1999), with a...
If you want more than to brush your face
against nature, eyes clinging briefly to swatches
of sky, their blues deepening as you watch,
hit-and-missing leaves, damp paintings
patched seamless together – if you want more
than the quick epiphany of a hill line
breaking free of houses, you have to
walk the same route each day.
To know a second before the way a view
opens like a fan and close perspective crumbles,
to acquire a memory of verges and stones
where a snake may pour over your foot,
or a spray of butterflies playing chest-high,
engulf you at a sudden turn;
to feel circling through you, sequence:
how the small yellow, freckled as the common
orchid, cedes to blue-and-zebra, and both precede
the black, prima donna rare, big as a bat –
to know this cycle better than you know
your neighbour, you have to walk
the route each day.
To feel each missed occasion as a lover’s absence
short-changing the body: pumps, pulleys,
mainspring linked to the fragile, falling chemistry
of your spirits; to read the sharp calligraphy
of birds carved on the air, to ambush
nature into telling, you need to stay
in one place for more than a year.
‘The Route’, from Porcelain (Auckland University Press, 2001), © Diana Bridge 1996, used by permission of the author. Recording from the Aotearoa New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive 2004.