by Denise Jarrott
Say that you remember how to build a pile of stones.
To say it is to summon something. Love. Error. Written in
the east wind and sent up the lake, milling about the algae.
I learned to swim in overcast May. I collected stones for my
pocket, always more beautiful in the water. My sister
said some were petrified wood. Sea glass. Clamshell.
Rocks fixed gently in the ramparts of a fickle castle
eaten by a errant wave. This was the word we knew.
Even for loved ones I cannot recover. I cannot receive what gifts
the rock altar had to give. But I say that I know, I let the rocks lie
and the rocks do not lie. The eldest of them are so old they do not speak.
Partially concrete slabs, the shoreline I remember. The dark water, the slender
probe of a mosquito. Swimmers itch. How soft we are.
I live near the mountains now. The rocks are neatly arranged, I nod
at their numb surfaces. Name all the muscles it takes to heave a stone,
the error of it sinking. The freckled shoulder of my father as he towed me,
a heavy stone, onto the beach. It is always that same beach, dirty
coconut. Turquoise tongues, red tongues, sour leather made my tongue
numb as a toad. I tasted nothing. I remember nothing. My brothers are
heaving stones into the lake. Their laughter hurts me. I open my book
and shut it again. A game of stones I do not remember how to play:
red stones, blue stones, stones that we put in our eyes. Hello, my precious
jewels with you I will buy the world. My sister cries in a canyon, holds
a stone in her hand that is not a stone: she sees time and its solution,
its crystalline, its godhead. With the fossils we summon the world.
I live near the mountains now. The stonepile in the west, utterly fixed
pushed and goaded by glacier and time and fault. My skin folds in
and I wake feeling as if my hair could catch fire. Let it heal you my brother
told me. From the air, the mountains resemble a blanket, they resemble
something undone. I did not know the answer to the cipher. Don't you
remember? I want to remember, but the language is a tongue I forgot.
I do not aim to create a puzzle for you, reader. I am only suggesting
possible outcomes. I am only trying to recover an answer to a question
I have forgotten how to answer. I have forgotten the words to the song
and everyone is singing it. I can only guess it is a love song, something
shared, something not to be forgotten. Forgive me or I'll love you for always or