A stone wall stands
along the north edge of our land
and, now and again, I've made the short walk
out under the trees
to bring back a small stone from that wall
First there was the one, as a piece of our home,
I carried with me
when I would be away
Then the ones, as a kind of gift, for those friends
who I wanted, also, to know from me
a part of our home.
As I say, a kind of gift.
Sometimes there was the delight I had intended.
As with the stone I brough
to the theater for Sam
the evening her play opened.
Or as guests prepare to leave
walk them out to the wall under the evening
find and hand them their stone,
walk them to their car.
Other times we will not quite see eye to eye.
As one night,
I arrive at dinner. While the hostess smiled
at the jar of homemade jam,
still, her eyes were wondering
why I had also just handed her a rock.
As I say, as a kind of gift.
There's the one I imagine sitting on Rebecca's dresser
wherever she is.
Or the one my daughter and I left with the Nova Scotia shore.
Or the two I carried back to Indiana.
One, set atop another much taller stone.
One, then pressed below into the loose soil
of my mother's newly closed grave.
And the others, for friends and for others.
So take this, my gift,
for the day I know will come,
when both the wall north of here
and each stone given from that wall
will still remain.
(Return to Poems)