The Stone on the Island

From The Dropped Hand
Marick Press
$14.95, 84 pp.

In the middle of Lake Erie is an island,
and in the middle of the island is a stone.
Mornings, as air moves with the warming
of the water, a cabin on the eastern shore
receives the sun. Curtains sway in the new day’s
breeze beside a wooden table, with two chairs,
where a man sits by the window watching.
By now Lake Erie water snakes will have cast
countless shadows in the shallows over the ledge
below the cabin, where he’d look for fossilized
crustaceans scribbled in hardened ooze. Dozens
of warbler waves will have come and gone,
but the two-ton Indian grinding stone will not
have been moved from its spot in the grass between
the playing field and the road. The man will not
test again the granite wheel with his palms, feeling
corncob-sized grooves worn into its surface. He will not
waken again to the sun’s path widening toward him
across those waves, those mornings the watery east
pulled him west into the dry landscape of home-
she so newly gone, it was as if he dwelt again
in the story of his birth: the brush hut and how
the women who built it for her washed and wrapped him
and sprinkled on his face drops of cold water
so he might endure many things. He will not
inhale again the lake-laden air, but he will keep
and carry the story hereafter, safe as a light-
filled cabin and solid as a grinding stone
intended for the work of women’s hands.

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