for Becca

I don’t know anything about the structure of rocks. 
Only that I move them 
away from where they were 
to another location 
closer in proximity
to me. Collecting rocks is a habit 
backed in desire. I suppose I trust 
that my desire is true, 
although I have doubted it
as I’ve doubted all sorts of love—
material attachment to objects 
and object relations. 
Mother for example. First best friend. 
The poster from a museum 
possessed by gaze and gender 
seen in a country
I now call to question, taken
by a photographer, of a model 
mid-gesture, combing straight black hair 
over white powdered 
left shoulder, bare breasts.  
A thin instance of stark relation
black  white, curve  line. My doubt 
has caused me to be more discerning, 
but not to stop. My eyes scour the shore. 
I found one this summer that made me think of you, 
pink and bone and speckled with beige and grey. 
Then pink again and always a bit yellow, 
like the sun, or like your hair 
which is a thing as you know,
in and of itself 
something that tells people 
something about your town.

In the discernment era
of rock pick up
I look closely to decide 
if the rock I’ve chosen will speak itself 
when dried and dried completely.
(Unlike my snails it won’t smell.)
I doubt my new method, 
as I have doubted so many loves. 
The rock may be dull—
yours is the love altar. 
It’s oblong. It’s unlike rocks 
I usually collect 
with longing 
vaguely resembling a heart.

Copyright © 2021 by Rachel Levitsky. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 2, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.