A Poem on Our 43rd Wedding Anniversary

A Poem on Our 43rd Wedding Anniversary

Sometimes I write poems for our anniversary. Sometimes on our anniversary. This one I wrote on our anniversary, December 21st. It addresses the question of where in this baffling, unknown, fragile world certainty and security can be found.

The Bridge and the River
A Poem on Our 43rd Anniversary

I count at least two thousand gray triangles
in the two-lane bridge that links Wisconsin
to the town

where we sat by a gas fire,
marked our forty-third wedding anniversary,
ate our turkey wraps, played scrabble,
and talked, cautiously, of years to come.

It may be double that — four thousand — if you allow
the parallel beams that form the sides of most,
and if you count the hundreds hidden
that I have missed.

By the fire we read and prayed
our way through four final chapters,
in the hopes our faith would be made strong.
Hebrews is good for going out, not knowing where.
We hardly knew, when we began this married life,
And now know even less, where it will lead.

The angles of the bridge — angle upon angle —
keep it high above the river, and make it possible
to ride safely over never-resting, shapeless currents,
from Stillwater to Houlton.

Read, pray, read pray,
read, pray, back and forth between us,
not like a pendulum; perhaps more like
the mating loons, irregular, indefinite,
delayed by tears.

The sharp, unbending, angles
support a solid, straight, road made of cement,
safe and in its proper place, predictable,
even in the dark.

Perhaps an hour, maybe more,
heads bowed over sons,
daughters-in-law, grandchildren, daughter,
all currents flowing, flowing, disappearing
around promontories.

But in the mighty joints
that make the angles firm,
there is rust.
And this great structure,
this unbending security above the river,
rests on six stony pillars,
where molecules of strength are etched away
day and night by ceaseless currents,
even underneath the solid ice.

“Let marriage be held in honor,
let the marriage bed be undefiled,
be free from the love of money.
I will never leave you or forsake you.”
Do you hear this, Noël?
This is the very voice of God.
The voice of God to us, Noël.
God, the maker of angles and pillars
and currents and promontories.

– John Piper

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John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.