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.

Related Poems

Seven Stones

translated by Cola Franzen

Today I picked up
seven stones
resembling birds and orphans
in the dead sand.
I looked at them
as if they were offerings
of uncommon times,
as if they were
seven endangered travelers.

Like a sorceress, I came near
and very gently
moistened them
against my cheek.

I wanted
to be seven stones
inside my skin,
to be, for an instant, very round and smooth
so somebody would pick me up
and make clefts in my sides
with the damp voice of the wind.

I wanted
you to pick me up,
to kiss me,
so I could be a river stone
in your estuary mouth.

I keep the seven stones
in my pocket.
They make a mound
in my hand
and in my stories
of absences,
a mossy sound.

Siete piedras

Hoy recogí
siete piedras
parecían pájaros y huérfanas
en la arena difunta.
Las miré,
como si fueran obsequios
de tiempos raros,
como si fueran
siete viajeras amenazadas.

Me acerqué maga,
y así muy dulce,
las humedecí
con mis mejillas.

Quise ser
siete piedras
en mi tez,
por un instante ser muy lisa y ronca
para que alguien me recoja
y haga de mí, hendiduras con la voz
de un viento humedecido.

Quise que
me recojas
me beses,
para ser piedra del río
en tu boca de estuarios.

Guardé en mi delantal
las siete piedras,
hacían una loma
en mi mano
eran en mis historias
de ausencias
un sonido enmohecido.

Stone Bird

I remember you. You’re the one
who lifted your ancient bones
of fossil rock, pulled yourself free
of the strata like a plaster figure
rising from its own mold, became
flesh and feather, took wing,
arrested the sky.

You’re the one who, though marble,
floated as beautifully as a white
blossom on the pond all summer,
who, though skeletal and particled
like winter, glimmered as solid as a bird
of cut crystal in the icy trees.

You are redbird—sandstone
wings and agate eyes—at dusk.
You are greybird—polished granite
and pearl eyes—just before dawn,
midnight bird with a reflective
vacancy of heart like a mirror
of pure obsidian.

You’re the one who flew down
to that river from the heavens,
as if your form alone were the only
holy message needed. You were alabaster
then in the noonday sun.

Once I saw you rise without rising
from your prison pedestal
in the garden beneath the lime tree.
At that moment your ghost
in its haunting permeated every
regality of the forest with light,
reigned with disdain in thin air
above the mountain, sank in union
with the crosswinds of the sea.

I remember you. You’re the one
who entered in through my death
as if it were an open window
and you were the sound of the serenade
being sung outside for me, the words
of which, I know now, are of freedom
cast in stone forever.