01 June 2006

Poetry Thursday: Origins Unknown and Forgotten

Origins Unknown and Forgotten

I looked in the box and picked up a small, smooth stone,
out of place with the polished gems,
the forgotten suddenly in view,
as if a bloodhound picking up a long cold trail,
had revealed an old hiding place.

I knew where I found this once.
It had meant something –
a feeling, a place, a sense:
flat, thin, cool sandstone,
worn down by water dancing over rock;
reddish-brown colored like southern clay hills,
or the windy desert at dusk as the sun widens her arms
in a desperate attempt to block out the night
and provide enough warmth for the stars until dawn.

Did you first smell the earth's musk in some gravelly hillside vineyard?
On what forest trail did you first see the trees?
Where was that sea where you heard a tidal song
and were surprised it tasted of salt?
How does it feel to have arrived here, in this box,
so far from roots of sedimentary rock,
origins unknown and forgotten?

Resting for awhile on my desk,
below the monitor where I could see it every day,
I used to pick it up when on the phone,
intertwining it with my fingers,
passing from one digit to the next
the way some old cigar-smelly uncle
would do with a quarter
when trying to pretend a magic trick,
enthralling the small children at the party.
He’d laugh and we'd laugh, but it wasn’t the same;
we've learned to stifle that kind of smoky laugh
now that our hearts are more steely,
steadied by pacemakers for our emotions.

I’d gently raise the small stone
to my check, caressing softly;
a bittersweet kiss, an earthy scent,
the sound of the sea muffled by years.
I used to think of you when I saw this,
held this, absorbed the terroir through my skin,
drank in its perfume, almost unconsciously,
like your touch on moonless nights.

But I don’t remember the origins,
and I no longer can remember you.

This week's poetry prompt at PoetryThursday was to read a poem aloud. I had already started this poem when Liz Elayne and Lynn had posted the prompt, but I made an effort to read ALOUD when I revised, not just 'in my head'. While I think this is still draft mode (there are some parts that don't work the way I'd like), I think the reading aloud exercise forced me to make changes I might not have thought about if I hadn't stumbled over the words when speaking them.


abhay k said...

Welcome to Poetry Thursday!
I loved the last two lines.."But I don’t remember the origins,
and I no longer can remember you."
Very thoughtful..

jim said...

I realize the prompt was about sound, but I really admire the strong imagery of the fourth strophe, where the rock becomes a rock to me. Very fine!

Kayla said...

This is amazing. I am really impressed. The whole time I kept thinking, wow is about so much more than a rock. I loved idea behind the line "steadied by pacemakers for our emotions". Thank you.

Dani said...

I enjoy poems that make me think of something in my own life. Your poem reminded me of a rock my 7 yo son gave me. I had it on my desk at work for quite a long time but then I moved it when I got a shiny new paperweight. After reading your poem today, I started to feel bad about casting aside something that he took time to find for me. Your poem reminded me that even the simplest things can have some meaning behind them. Now I've got to find that rock!

jzr said...

Hi Cam,

This is a lovely piece. I also collect rocks and love the emotions they can often bring up when I stumble upon them after having tucked them away ... revisiting the past that I sometimes cannot remember ... meeting up with old friends ... remembering the people, the landscape, the way the sky held the clouds. Thank you! Also thanks for visiting my blog and your compliments.

liz elayne said...

the last two lines resonate deep within me...and reading this aloud was a pleasure. so glad you posted it and gave us a glimpse into your practice of writing it.

Rhiannon said...

Simple a wonderful poem.