For more than 30 years now, we've gathered on this bridge on the morning of the winter solstice to watch the newborn Sun rise out of the Mississippi Valley.
They say that every bridge takes a life in the building. This bridge took the life of a poet. Surely a bridge dyed with the blood of a poet will stand for long and long.
People have been watching the Midwinter Sun rise here for long and long as well. As we turn our faces to the southeast on Yule morning, we will face the site of one of the oldest and largest Winter Villages on the Upper Mississippi. Here families that dispersed during the summer to gather, hunt, and farm, would come together to overwinter. At one time, as many as 20,000 people may have lived here: as many, in fact, as live here now.
On the east bank, the living. Here Big Village was located. On the west bank, the dead. Here a row of eleven mounds once stood, where, since perhaps 700 CE, bone bundles were ceremoniously deposited.
Life and death, and the bridge between. Summer and winter, east and west. Here we stand, between, as we have always stood.