True Account of a Pilgrimage to See the Bishop of Bridges by E.C. Messer

I arrive at the first river town of the North. I have come to witness the River-Crossing Festival, to attend the Blessing of the Bridges and receive, if I am able, that most important of boons for travelers and poets alike. When I arrive, I am too shy to ask if the Bishop is already here. For many days I wait, visiting each of the town’s most famous trees.

Sages with strong trunks
stand in peace,
you tell me all you know
without speaking.

These days are spent pleasantly among my leafy ancestors. Finally, I grow impatient and decide to leave for the next town. Upon my departure a small girl—sensing as children do my true intentions—whispers to me: The Bishop of Bridges has already been here. I rise with the sun to continue my journey.

I wake in thought
as though still dreaming,
the lark’s song
echoing in my ear.

I arrive at the next river town very late in the evening. I find lodging at an inn, but the crowd here is boisterous, so much so that I fear inquiring after the Bishop. I will do so in the morning. Next day the town is nearly deserted—it is the Festival of River-Flowers. All have gone down to the banks of the river. They have gone to see the flowers which grow just on the surface of the water and blossom with the current. They open one upon another in an endless blaze of color and perfume. It was truly a magnificent sight to witness.

of green and gold,
your petals change the course
of one among many.

The crowd gathered here does not include the Bishop of Bridges. His absence tells me that he must already have left for the next town. That day, I do the same.

Like migrating cranes
I follow my blessings;
would I do better to find them
among the stones at my feet?

In the afternoon, I enter the gates of the third and final river town whose bridge awaits blessing. This town is the largest of the three, its bridge is a monument to the resources and dedication of its citizenry.

A bridge alone
walks with me across the water,
but a whole town
takes pride in its use.

This bridge is, in fact, a passageway to the town center. I reflect upon the many noble lines of verse that have been composed on this very spot. Rather than suffering from the impossibility of such a task, I place my small words before this great monument.

I am only one poet, alone.
But writing verse
where others have written
is like a town that builds a bridge together.

The people of the town assemble. They see me crossing the water against a halo of sunlight. They welcome the Bishop of Bridges.

E.C. Messer lives in the sunniest part of San Francisco with her husband and four cats. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @ecmesser. She would like very much to know you.