Edge of the Chesapeake

By Andrea Mummert

October 13, 2014

Edge of the Chesapeake

My legs dangle off the dock. Clear water flows under my feet. Rows of low waves move toward me in slow parallel lines, disappearing below the boards. A white streak of light runs the crest of each wave, and the slightly shadowed troughs glisten powder-steel blue. I can see to the marsh bottom. Evenly spaced ridges in the mud look like imprints of the wavelets on the water’s surface.

In my throat rises a feeling of being filled, but at the same time, longing.

In Waiting for God, Simone Weil wrote,

We want to get behind beauty, but it is only a surface… we should like to feed upon it, but… it is a sphinx… a mystery… powerfully tantalizing.

Sitting here, I wonder, what are we supposed to do with beauty?

Swans start making noise about fifty yards away, swimming and flapping their wings, along with long-legged sandpipers. Reverberating sounds, like an old culture’s crafted wind instruments. “This is a perfect moment,” I think, “if only I could get out of my head to really be here—how incredible it would be.”

So I try to meditate. Looking at the water and trying to pay attention to my breath, all the things that distract me are beautiful things: sounds of calls and webbed feet on water.

Then the intruding thought, an answer: This is what beauty is for, its exquisite utility. Beauty will bring you to the edge of your senses and make you want to be where you are.


Photo "Tundra swan, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge" provided by Chesapeake Bay Program, via Flickr creative commons license.

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