The Rope Bridge | Monument

The Rope Bridge

From the bench, we gazed over the pasture
and below it the long valley
and slow slope up the facing hills,

one man trying to guide a younger one
through the wild terrain of his life.
But first he had to gain my trust.

So Richard let me read his Lamentations,
his version of sacred elegy, the mourning
whose only comfort is the act of mourning.

Richard knew he was no poet
and made no claims for his verses
except their feeling, the strength of his love,

and it was along that bridge, ropes swaying
above the chasm and torrents crashing far below,
that I stepped out, depths meeting depths.


There is the stone Tahj moved.
He was so proud, I played along.
I pointed, That one?
No. That one? No.
Then his turn: That
one! He indicated the rock
crushing the daylilies, a rock as big
as his nearly-four-year-old shoulders.

I imagine him hunching,
arms an awkward sling
as he wide-stepped the hulk
out of the way of the mower
his father was pushing.

This is the monument
to kids helping parents,
stirring batter until the bowl spills,
weeding out all the lily of the valley,
snapping every single cigarette,
hiding the cellphone so everyone
can be home together
when everyone is home together.

Here is the monument to parents—
the stone of patience,
the ever-teaching stone,
the stone they must carry
and not put down.

About Edward Dougherty

Journey Work: Crafting a Life of Poetry & Spirit, Edward A. Dougherty’s latest book, traces his spiritual/poetic seeking from roots as a devout Roman Catholic to years practicing as a Quaker and in Buddhist meditation. Dougherty is the author of 11 poetry collections, from Pilgrimage to a Gingko Tree, composed while volunteering at a peace center in Hiroshima, to Grace Street and 10048, named after the zip code of the World Trade Center.

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