Wednesday, February 16, 2005

NEW! Rebecca Lilly poem

Rebecca Lilly


The stone is plain and irregular, not the pure form of fire or air. A bulwark, it rests for centuries in desert ruins, or dry stream beds, or under the forest earth as a tomb. If it pokes through, like the hull of a sunboat, or the rim of a cauldron that once boiled witches' brew, wind and rainfall eventually expose it.

For the nymph who bathes in lake waters, with her negligee of moss, it's a movable bench, while the naturalist marvels at its bumps and crevices, as if it had a lamp behind it. “Ah, fossils and shell scraps. What to make of its pocked eyes?” wonders the naturalist, who admires its survivalist creed, “and if we read it properly, what secrets would it tell if it could speak!” Cleared of snow-melt, sun-baked on an over-look, or by a woods stream, a stone shows itself to be merely nothing more, and ages with dignity.

If an animal ingests it accidentally with its leaves or berries, it's excreted unchanged, and fares well over the centuries, a dewed covering of ivy, moss or lichen sparkling after rain, attracting a butterfly's fireworks. Dust motes are radiant in crevices and other hiding places when the sun strikes: praying mantises, ladybugs, snakes, toads, and other insects rest inside.

So the legend goes, wood sprites and elves will claim ownership, for a stone records the history of forest-dwellers. Before dark settled on our world, fire marked ocean floors, caverns and grottoes, now knobbed and scarred. The stone is a peephole on the cosmos, holding the sun's heat even as it darkens--remnant of its previous life when the stone was a star.

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