A Kind of Gift

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)