Category Archives: River of Stones

Small stones: The last stone

SchuykillExpresswayJanuaryIceFromRockBlack rock abrim with
Water that seeps to cold air,
Turning to white rock.

This photo was taken along the Schuylkill Expressway – the main road into Center City Philadelphia from the west. The Expressway is built in a notch hacked (or more likely blasted) out of the high, steep southern bank of the Schuykill River. Where the bedrock is exposed, water oozes out of the rock, and in winter it freezes into miniglaciers on the rock face.

Small stone 6: Weather forecast

Snow showers, they told us yesterday. Expect an illusion, the look of something falling, something that vanishes as if it never was.

Midnight and snow

Midnight and snow

All evening and all night flecks of whiteness dropped through the air. They couldn’t resist us, our houses and yards and streets, our world. They wanted to stay. So they did.

Lavender in the Snow

Lavender in the Snow

The sun set last night on faded winter beige. It rose today on a different world, bleached to white, punctuated by black stones and gray-green lavender. Winter’s here.

Small stone 5: Impossible.

It isn’t the flu.
No, it can’t be the flu.
My shoulders don’t ache
And I had my shot, too.

I don’t have the flu.
No, I won’t have the flu.
It drags on so long;
I have so much to do.

But I’m coughing all night
And I’m coughing all day
And I’m so very tired
And it won’t go away
Not whatever I do…
do you think it’s the flu?

Small stone 4: 3 a.m.

It’s dark, it’s quiet. Why am I awake?

Oh, that’s right. I have to cough. Again.

What time is it, anyway? That early? How can I be awake after only two hours of sleep? I’ll just lie here until the world fades out.

No. Cough. No, I won’t. Cough. Cough.

You know, I’m not having a good January.

Small stone # 3: For yesterday

I’ve been disturbing the dust, picking up things that have lain comfortably in one place for months, sorting through them, moving them to different locations, even throwing them away. The poor neglected dust particles were left to float through the air and search for new homes…and some of them relocated to my sinuses. Pain in my cheekbones. Pain in my forehead just to either side of the bridge of my nose. Pain. I think my sinuses want a divorce.

Stone 22, last day

When I was little, nothing needed to be real.
I piled up handfuls of small stones or shells
or laid out sticks, just touching end to end,
and look! I made a town, a road, a fort.
They had to be the things I said they were.
I know that’s silly, now. You can’t make stones
be what they aren’t – they’re stubborn. So are sticks.
These days, I make-believe with piles of words instead.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the discipline of piling up my verbal stones over the last three weeks – I didn’t stumble across the Small Stones site until a third of January was gone. And I’ve enjoyed seeing the images other posters offered to the world.

Some days, it’s been a challenge to come up with a topic; many days, it’s been a struggle to stay simple and concrete. Every day, it’s been rewarding. Thank you! I’ll miss our river.

Stone 21, thirtieth day

Year of the Dragon

A thud that shakes the world, jars ribs, and jolts
against your spine. The night sky blossoms, white
against blue-black, cascading diamond streams.
Another jolt; chrysanthemum of yellow fire.
Pink sunbursts; unexpected flecks of white
so bright it burns your eyes. The fiery noise,
the earthbound smoke, surprise upon surprise.
I want to be like fireworks.

Stone 20, twenty-ninth day

Struggling to Write

My mind feels like a stone, hard, heavy in
the hand, refusing to respond. I fight
to quarry one more stone, one pebble, chip
of thought. My stone mind will not answer. It
lies smooth and silent, maybe wavering
a bit like stones in flowing water, gray
or brown or black. Perhaps I ought to let
it blossom on its own, stone opening
like petals, offering color, texture, scent
in its time, not in mine.

Stone 19, twenty-eighth day

Lazy Day

It’s been a hectic week, a hectic several
weeks. So nice to sit, no place to go,
familiar chairs and books and mess nearby.
The needle’s bluntly pointed tip slides through
the brown yarn circle; lassoed by more yarn,
it draws back, yarn pursuing. One more stitch.
The room is warm.

Stone 18, twenty-seventh day

Picturing Waterfalls

The photo is a lie, too quiet. You
can’t see this without motion, sound,
a smell of water in the air,
and dampness on your skin. Mosquitos
whining, too. It’s their home more than yours.

A steady stream of water pours
and sparkles past the lip of rock
that edges that pool on your left –
then, bored, decides to drip in four,
no, five, twelve wide spaced trickles – wait,
those two have merged…what’s constant here is change.

* * *

This particular waterfall is hidden away in the Laurel Highlands of western Pennsylvania, in a little park, down a muddy trail. I took the picture in May, 2009 while standing on a bridge over the stream that flows away from the base of the falls. But the stone above applies to all waterfalls, doesn’t it?