They’re stacked beside the creek
on a hidden gravel road—patience
and craft, the artful searching,
seeing, chipping, shaping. Mostly
limestone, each rock—millions of years
forming, fossilized, story-filled—itself a cairn.
The hours spent in rugged contemplation,
water burble, wind in leaves, the forest’s sway—
a present for those who pass as the earth
crumbles in time what human hands have made.
I stack words to remember what words alone
can’t say. The tongue is an eye, a poet wrote,
not just a choking muscle, fumbling with age.
The earth a grave of lost words, stones
and children’s bones; a cairn, itself, crude and holey.
The gift is in the labor, mother taught—
scraped palms, broken nails, tired backs,
the ordered wonder of shape.
Copyright (c) 2019 by Bill Brown. All rights reserved. Bill Brown is the author of ten poetry collections. During the past thirty years, he has published hundreds of poems and articles in literary journals and anthologies. In 2011 the Tennessee Writers Alliance named him the Tennessee Writer of the Year. He lives in Greenbrier.