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.