Stones are the #poetry of experience

Today is Poem in Your Pocket Day. So what’s in my pocket? “A Stone,” a poem I’ve been working on since last summer.

A single stone can seem at once to be just itself while also being the story of its place. They are beautiful metaphors for the events of our lives. Stones are the poetry of experience.

A stone from the Oregon coast


Stones are pushed in runnels
worked and reworked in every stream
of water, every single life.

Their shoulders are smoothed
under the sun’s glare,
under the moon’s slow gaze,
under the weight of water passing.

Who of you sees the stone
flat on the river’s bed below the flowing mirror
that hides the hellbender?

Have you leapt from wave-worn basalt
to watch the roiling bath below
spill across the mussels’s mouths
drinking in the living gift?

Who has watched a falcon fly
from the cathedral rocks?

Who knows the sweet scent,
so familiar to that hungry and honest actuary
– the vulture – gliding over the badlands
calculating his chances to eat the mule deer
lain out on the cracked rock basin?

Who has lifted a stone and not cast it
against his brother as Cain once did?

Who has watched the deer bleed on the stones,
and then intoned the Lord’s prayer,
or quoted the Bhagivad Gita?
Like Oppenheimer, we all become death.

Who has hidden under a stone
from his wife’s blinding wrath?
And who held it up to stop her gaze
from knowing betrayal?

Who crawled from under one,
and walked toward the pool
where new stones cleansed their feet and
where, like Mary Magdelene,
they met forgiveness?

A stone is like an arm.
You can rest your chin and speak,
eyes closed, to a lover
with cool cotton thread under you.

A stone is true in your palm –
a bed, a prayer, a falcon’s eye, or your heart –
as things that never were but will be,
as moment worked and reworked
in the water.


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