Much of poetry is a kind of posed reflection--an internalized debate, conversation, or extended thought that has had the messiness pruned away and has been made ready for general consumption. When we encounter poetry that we don't "get" it is often because we don't understand the terms of the debate or the center of reflection. I say this because the poem I am presenting may have elements that are too personal for them to mean much to anyone else. And the job of the poet is to identify such poems and attempt to enlarge their terms so that they do mean beyond the narrow limits of the personal experience. However, this should be done within the poem itself. So, if you give this a couple of tries and still cannot make sense of it, please drop me a line to help in the revision of it.

Rock in Water

"Don't touch that!" the guide's words echo in the
empty chambers of eerie light, this rock
and void wonder that makes of Earth a womb,
and the object under protection of
so vigilant a guardian--living
rock, onyx growing through the ages. One
human touch, one fingerprint, kills the stone,
one sheen of oil seals out healing water
and the white rock ends. The human touch tends
to end all things and begin truncated
projects, odd and ends, all unfinished and
so always unending.
___________________ My totem in years
that were to come, the durable, shaped by
the ephemeral, the solid made whole by
the shifting. In the depths of the water
an egg of basalt, size of a football,
weight of a car, posed on a slate shelf, smoothed
and waiting for one who will carry it
away--and a waking dream of a stone
pillar swirled round by raging water, a
flood that does not move, cannot sway, lets stand
a rock unperturbed and changed entirely.
Story of a life the solid mired, swamped,
changed and the same amid all the shifting.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on September 10, 2007 7:40 AM.

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