The Tenderness of Stone
We know beggars would rather have a loaf
so, when they cry, they do not want a stone.
Too long a sacrifice can turn a heart
into one of us, as can persistence.
Children will skim us time and time again
over a still loch and troubled adults
will cast us out as far as they can see,
to drown their burdens, like a sack of cats.
We are chips off the old block, rocks, boulders,
pebbles, grains, irritants that create pearls.
We have been molten, crystallized, polished;
we have been dragged, eroded, scarified.
Attrition has been our second nature.
We have fissures, fossils, fool’s gold, dark seams.
Look at us: though we have been rejected,
we also have been chosen corner stones,
cairns, sheepfolds. Hollowed out, we became homes.
Thirsty crows dropped us, one by one, until
the water level rose to meet their beaks.
We have been used as missiles to kill men-projectiles
of their own guilt, but one Man
made a mad crowd release us to the ground,
rather than hurl us with the force of law.
We have borne words and cryptic alphabets;
we have been pillows, then piled as pillars
to mark the place where angels ascended,
descended on a heavenly ladder.
We mark time, are thresholds, lintels and sills.
Some implore that we should fall upon them;
some sense that they should fall on us and break.
We are the worn handclasp of effigies
and the spray of gravel at a shutter,
the shrapnel signal of elopers’ trysts.
The mobile statue of the petrified,
whom faithless men implore to punish them,
finds in rapprochement there’s no rebuke.
In a future world the shattered will cup
palms, to receive a stone, white as an egg,
bearing their new name. And stones will not chide.
Heaven will be in every grain of sand.