Moving Stone

above: Marguerite Lawler, “Mossy”, 24″x24″, oil, 2017

Submitted by Gary Lawless

Introduction by Betsy Sholl

Gary Lawless has been a presence and force in Maine poetry for many years.   He grew up here and runs with his wife Gulf of Maine Books.  But he is also a world traveler, or I should say an “earth traveler,” having residencies in national parks, studying with Gary Snyder in the Pacific Northwest, and, he writes, heading off for a residency in Venice this fall.   His work also includes making room for others–teaching poetry workshops for immigrants, translating, bringing to our community the voices of those we haven’t heard before.  My sense is that Gary is very grounded in place, but it is an expansive place,  because he honors the fact that every living soul also has a place.   It’s as if he makes no distinction between “here” and “there.”   After all, our stones have already been fire and vegetation and sand, have been under the earth and high above.

Moving Stone

 

The stone is “full of slower, longer thoughts than mind can have”           Ursula LeGuin

1

Birds skim the surface

Just above, just below

Layers of light

Stone below the

Surface, many surfaces

What is revealed and

What is hidden

 

2

Inside the stone

 

Up in the woods,

In the circle among the beech trees,

Last winter one of the lumber horses split a stone

Horizontally, with a clip of his big steel shoe.

It had seemed to be a plain gray stone,

But when it was opened a black wall appeared,

Rusty at the edges, flecked with pale checks

Like unknown constellations, and over all

Floated wisps of blue-grey, trailing feathers of clouds.

 

I brush away the fallen leaves

And stare into the distance inside the stone.

If one could become a bird –

If one could fly into that night-

If one could enter the light of those stars –

 

And then the woods become very still,

The beech leaves blur at the edge of my vision,

I find I am bending lower and lower.

 

Kate Barnes

 

 

3

The Stone

 

I don’t know if they bleed, the stones.

Or if they scream, if they howl under

The wheel & the mace, or if the knife’s

Blade wounds them, deep in their flesh,

Slicing through them.

 

I know that the loam that sometimes

Runs from them, no matter how red, is

Not blood.

 

And I’ll say nothing of their

Tenderness, from stone to stone, from

Water to air.

 

 

But what I know is that our blood

Comes from the stone. And our flesh

Comes from nowhere else, come from

Stone we are stone, we are dust and

Wind’s smoke.

 

That our blood is blood of stone,

And our heat is of the sun, and our wail

The howl of the stone, through which

Our soul passes full-bodied, that we are

The soul of the stone – but tell me, the

Stone, who is the stone – where does

She come from?

 

Marcela Delpastre

Translated from the Occitan

By Nicole Peyrafitte and Pierre Joris

 

 

4

 

Driving home from Belfast, into the crescent moon

(for Dudey Zopp)

 

I hear the granite singing,

And it is alive.

I want to tell you

That granite is a migratory species

(think plate tectonics, continental

Drift, glacial erratic)

But you can read the flow lines

From when granite was

Liquid, and moving, quickly –

I want to tell you

That lichen is

A language of granite,

That granite speaks

With air

And water and light –

We might never know

What stories it holds

Deep within the rock.

 

Gary Lawless

 

 

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