The edge of the world
I’m at the edge of the river, the end of the manmade world. Hard to believe a ninety degree turn reveals Richmond’s downtown skyline. But I’m on the bank of the James looking upstream, with 500 acres of wild park embracing me.
The world shifts from snapshot to video. Everything is moving. There’s a steady current of swallowtails flying upstream above the water. There are hundreds, enough birds to make the sky itself seem to have wings. Higher up, the clouds shift the opposite direction, at half the pace but covering twice the distance. They’re in no hurry, but they are brisk. A glance downward, and the river glides over rocks, stumbles around crevices, crashes over stubbly brush, burps over itself. Leaves gold and red play in their whimsical spiral. I feel grateful for verbs.
Now the canines make themselves known. They do more than charge over the rocks in the river. They sail. Unearthed, gravity free, they twist and fly, no bones. Their tongues can’t keep up as their heads cleave the air. I watch them soar, emotion in motion. They are the principle actors in the film, but the rest is more than just scenery. The water, the clouds, the leaves, the sunlight—these are actors too.
I am slammed by the beauty of it all. I want to reach out and grab it, freeze the frame, make the world stop and just be. Just like that.
But it keeps moving, and I know that it’s rushing toward winter. Then the birds will snuggle up in their nests. The river will shiver and slow down. The houses will make their appearance behind bare tree limbs. The dogs will sleep by the fire. And I’ll wonder why the seasons get shorter each year.
But for now, I am the anchor, holding the earth together. I am the snapshot in the video world. Only my chest flutters.