Friday, September 14, 2012

A stone rests

A stone rests.
Water rushes over it like spirit.
Laughter and tears.
Now look at it again and see
what this movement
means to the stone.

If you can’t see it
then listen;
If you can’t hear it
then smell;
If you can’t smell it
then taste;
If you still don’t know
what the movement means
to the stone
then ask the water to rush
over you
until you are moving
at the same speed
as the stone.


  1. I find this beautiful, and strangely elliptical, Ruth. As so much good poetry is. I grasp it intuitively, yet eddies swirl then ripple out. What is the speed of a stone? It rests. But it is also inevitably moved by the currents — of the stream and of life. The water moves while the stone rests; and sometimes the water moves the stone; and sometimes the stone and the water move together. Could it also be possible both to rest and remain in motion at the same time? But your described stone has no speed right now, Ruth, so feels the movement of the water quite sensitively, and if we can't understand this with our senses, then we can understand it with our spirit. A tremendously resonant and open-ended poem, Ruth.

    1. Robert, like erin I love how you work this out for yourself, which seems to embrace the intent of this writing space. I do believe with all my heart that it is possible to both rest and remain in motion at the same time! I believe the soul is always at rest (did I say "soul," not "stone"?). I find this concept to be quite restful. Thank you, my friend, for attending here and for your enthusiasm.

  2. i love how solitary walker (robert?)works the significance of the poem out for himself. this is his work in hand with your work. it is lovely to witness.

    for me, ruth, this is your best poem. i feel it. you felt it too, didn't you? the poem washes over me and i feel clean, right. in the end i welcome not working anything out but instead being.


    1. erin, yes I love how Robert worked out out. This is what I want always to do with one another, such a joy.

      I it is strange, erin, how your response to this piece has slipped over me. There was a day when my ego would have jumped up and down to be told any poem I wrote was "the best" I'd written. No doubt my ego is still here and jumping, but I can honestly say that I had no hope of this even being a poem, I had no confidence in lyricism or rhythm. But I also had no concern that it was or wasn't a poem, only that it was saying something real, with as little obstruction as possible. Thank you for feeling what you feel from it, for "submitting" to it as you do. (and always do) xoxo

  3. "until you are moving/at the same speed/as the stone." Yes. A Zen koan, perhaps, and...not. Yes, your best. So far... (and happy I am to read it, to be witness to the words no longer piercing your mind and soul, but floating from within...being)

    1. ds, and I am happy you are here to understand that poems have not come to me in a long time. I am amazed that you and others think it's my best, though I am pleased by that. In fact, I pay close attention to this, because it tells me that the work may be honesty as much as choosing words. Well, or letting words choose me.

  4. ruth, your words seem simultaneously as small and as powerful as seeds ... and some seeds are called stones, are they not?

    i have to concur with erin -- for me, this is the best of your poems that i have seen. this is spare and essential and true at its core, as, i feel, are you :-)

    the opening reminds me -- not sure that i can say why -- of the first words of genesis ... perhaps it is this same reduction to the elemental -- earth and water, and the rush of wind / spirit that is also word ...

    it is hard to separate spirit and matter, hard to turn away and opt for speech ... perhaps that is what one learns at the speed of stone ....


    1. James, oh yes, words are seeds, stones, pits even. Like the beginning of the world, or a fruit, or anything, they are at the core, even as they do not completely signify ... they are simply the fingers pointing at the moon ... yet they are more than that, and even part of creation. Thank you for that connection.

      I am humbled and pleased that you see something here, something that seems true to me, and that you see me! As we have been discussing of late, we know that anything we write falls short of what is true. Yet we can get quite close, I think, as you demonstrate again and again. What astonishes me is how you do it with translations, and how (as with Rilke translations) the seed shines in the leaf, even when grafted into a different language!

      Thank you.

  5. I imagine also that the stone at rest, a stone whose Water rushes over it like spirit, perhaps also is sometimes covered by other matter, less exposed to the movement of spirit....

    Even as you ask us to see what the water's movement means to the stone at rest, I wonder what its own changing exposure to spirit means to the stone....

    And if, as James Owens says, "it is hard to separate spirit and matter," it may be hard to see any difference in meaning....

    1. Nelson, yes, I wonder too. I recently read that the Dalai Lama described spirit as the peaks, the mountaintops with snow, the light places, and the soul as shadow. You and I have long discussed the shadows of soul via Hillman and Moore, but only recently have I understood that these spirit places really can be full of matter that covers the soul, and prevent me seeing the darker places. I think I should reread some of that print matter. :-)

  6. I am right now looking at the watercolor painting of seaside stones I brought with me to the Netherlands from our visit to Vancouver Island years ago. I knew there was a reason it spoke to me...!

  7. in a way, if only we had the wisdom of the stone. (or the patience)

    your words leave me, sitting here, listening for the message of the water..

  8. Lovely, Ruth. I can hear it and feel it if I sit quietly. It does not surprise me that I have a love of those smooth round beach stones piled one on top of another...


All responses are welcome.