by Sylvia Byrne Pollack
Winner of the 2012 Mason’s Road Winter Literary Award!
|I remember the day I picked up this rock
because he spoke to me (however he did that),
saying he was a particular piece of my past
I needed to take when I moved back to the city,
not pocket-size, like most of my beach finds,
the pebbles, glass shards and baby crab shells,
but a substantial stone, liftable yet
damn hard to carry all that way
from Possession Point to the cabin.***
He says he’s named Gregory like the Great Pope,
kneels now on a small Persian carpet
on the floor of my study
not an ounce of anxiety in him.
He fills the room with presence,
chants in a humble monotone.
Is what I hear when I sit and am quiet
a congregation of molecules dancing,
tingling cymbals of silica?
Or is this plain chant, monophonic old songs?
His theology is so 7th century.
The desert monks taught him forbearance,
how to live with the 8 evil thoughts,
hold his own against lust and etc.
But Gregory has trouble with acedia
just can’t bring himself
to get up and get going.
He sits there, distracted.
Beautiful mudflows slip through his thoughts.
It’s time to recite matins but he figures
there’s always tomorrow.
Gregory regales me with tales of his relatives.
He gloats over the Pyramids,
exults in stone fences that mark out
sheep-dotted fields in Ireland.
He prefers stones like himself
with no artifice
though he greatly admires sculptors,
says Michelangelo is one of his heroes.
He grows wistful when he describes
tall stones standing upright in henges.
They’ve told him of magic,
adventures with little people,
And, of course, there’s The Stone
that sealed up the grave for three days.
Gregory says that The Stone says
that he rolled away by himself.
It was hard.
When I ask how he learned
all these stories, he regards me oddly,
tells me that we might hear them also
if we could be silent enough,
draw the slow twisting tales
out of the ether.
Jung knew about that.
Gregory’s stoned, again,
shit-faced, groveling at my feet.
I forgive him.
It must be hard to be always so contained,
the exchange of molecules with the air
so slow that it is possible
he has never taken a breath
in all the eons of his rocky existence,
not once sighed.
Sylvia Byrne Pollack had careers in cancer research and mental health counseling before turning to poetry. A Pushcart nominee, her work has appeared in Drash: Northwest Mosaic, Hobble Creek Review, SHARK REEF, Solo Novo, and Floating Bridge Review. She is currently completing a chapbook titled Tapas.