Tonto National Bridge

At the end of every busy season, my tired eyes long for new horizons and unexplored trails to refill my cup of inspiration.  A trip to Arizona for my favorite conference gave me the opportunity: on my last morning there, after days of sitting back and having my eyes opened anew by fellow artists, I struck out to see what I could see.  

Tonto National Bridge

And what lay before me? The Tonto National Bridge. This rock formation is the largest natural travertine bridge in the world, and I decided I would hike through its more than 400ft long tunnel with a broken rib. While not the smartest decision I've ever made, it was definitely an inspiring one.  

As I huffed and puffed and tried not to slip to my death (since I am not what you would call an avid hiker), I heard the words of my favorite Mary Oliver poem echoing through the cavern of my mind, grounding me, making me feel a part of this world in all the right ways.

"Every year

the lilies

are so perfect

I can hardly believe

their lapped light crowding

the black

mid-summer ponds.

Nobody could count all of them--

the muskrats swimming

among the pads and the grasses

can reach out

their muscular arms and touch

only so many, they are that

rife and wild.

But what in this world 

is perfect?

I bend closer and see

how this one is clearly lopsided--

and that one wears an orange blight--

and this one is a glossy cheek

half nibbled away--

and that one is a slumped purse

full of its own

unstoppable decay.

Still, what I want in my life

is to be willing

to be dazzled--

to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even

to float a little

above this difficult world.

I want to believe I am looking

into the white fire of a great mystery.

I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing--

that the light is everything--that it is more than the sum

of each flawed blossom rising and fading. 

And I do."

What a Wide Eyed World it is.  Happy 2015!

Ashley Smith1 Comment