Tuesday, August 20, 2013

a stone's frugal life


I ogle stones
in a bed of sand
through the veil of a clear lake

*

one speckled stone catches my eye .
my hand reaches
through distortions
for its heart

*

one stone heart
in my palm
turns my hand to sand

*

it is thus
the hammer beats us
back together

*

in the night
I hear the strokes
in my blood

sand water sand water sand


15 comments:

  1. it is thus
    the hammer beats us
    back together


    !

    as though i have a pocket of air in my throat (as dense and as porous as the stone)... you have just extracted it!

    oh.

    (please read threshing the fire)))))))

    xo
    erin

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    1. My friend, we are inconsequential, transitory, impermanent, passing like grain in a field's wind.

      And yet, these moments we live are intensely alive, or can be if we just listen and watch. I kneel with you, and Jack Gilbert, and feel the warmth of the beach, the heat from the fire. The heat from our breath.

      lovelovelove

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  2. the stanza that erin quotes! :-)) i like the reversal here, the invitation to consider this surprising thought, the hammer that "beats us / back together," rather than breaking us apart. ... but the hammer (time?) beats us all together by breaking us apart ... all are united by natural processes that turn stone and hand, and writer and reader, to the same sand -- and perhaps turns the sand back into stone and hand, writer and reader ... and the pulse at night, in that wonderful last line, is, in a very literal sense, the hammer beating us onward into transformation ....

    i love the pacing here, too, the break for breath and thought between stanzas ... right for a poem at the edge of water, always a proper site for contemplation ...

    .

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    1. Thanks so much, James, for your reading, which is spot on. Contemplating the stones becoming sand at the beach, rocked and shoved and bumped by the tireless waves, I couldn't help but feel our oneness with all dissolving things. Yes time and nature beat us into transformation: Life.

      I am supremely grateful for this one last beachside silence before a new school year. I think you know how it is in these dunes. :)

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  3. And now I know how your time away was.... I was waiting for this. The hart restored.

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    1. Boots, you wrote hart, and so you understand that deep seed of love for this sand, this water, these dunes, from our childhood. I realize now that I need to find a way to such a place more than I have. The restorative power is there, and it takes at least two days. :) It was after the second that I was open enough to weep. I love you.

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    2. That's wonderful, Ruth. You'll find ways to do it more often, I'm sure of it! I love you, too.

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  4. I found this a wonderfully resonant poem, certainly one of your best, and one that reverberates, like ripples on a lake. I love its oxymoronic nature, 'the veil of a clear lake', the distortions in the water's clarity, the hard stone which is soft sand, the hand which is sand, the beating hammer which can forge together or break apart, the heart which can be hard or soft. I loved this poem, Ruth.

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    1. Robert, thank you for these close observations and for such kind things said. Being at the big lake, much of the time in utter solitude, no one for miles in either direction, reached deep inside me. I liked how it felt, and I want more of it.

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  5. And, I meant to say, 'strokes' can be hard or soft, of course — hammer strokes or caressing strokes...

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  6. Reading this poem today made my day complete. I just came from Lake Michigan, where I feel my body connecting with the sand, stones and water. How great it was to find your poem after a day of feeling the hammer and hearing the strokes in my blood.

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    1. Oh that's so cool, Liz. I love that it happened just this way.

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  7. being at the ocean, where i am now, i am hearing that whooshwhoosh as well, the lifebeat sound of the earth and sea that is the same thing running through our veins.

    sandwatersandwatersandwater

    this is beautiful ruth. this is the rhythm of my day ;)

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    1. Lovely, Amanda. How fortunate you are.

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  8. So much spaciousness fills the between-ness of the solid and not-solid actors of this poem. And I mean 'actors' not as in those engaging in artifice but in terms of "beings with agency" - stone, sand, water, hand
    they're all active and I am aware too of the conundrum of how spaciousness itself can fill space - but I don't care that I'm making no logical sense about it.

    The form of the poem, too, allows that spaciousness to breathe.

    Just lovely, Ruth.

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All responses are welcome.