Gathering stones


As a child I gathered stones.
Black-flecked granite grown
orb-like in a stream under cottonwoods,
their durable stories,
shoved into the pockets
of my jean shorts or overalls.

When the other kids
looked at me sideways,
asked me why I didn’t like
wearing dresses
I could touch the stone
remember the trees,
who never asked me to
explain myself
who understood
my silence perfectly.

I felt more like rock
than girl or boy,
more like sand than child,
something shaped slowly over years,
rubbed softly until smooth,
companion of tree roots,
young dragonflies,
the shimmer of fish.

When raised brows
hinted at disdain
I wanted to stare back
solid as the stones.
Eyes winking like flakes
of mica lodged between quartz.
Just as sure of myself
as something millions
of years old, just as


My friends’ four-year-old
looks down at her new dress and says
“This dress doesn’t have pockets…yet.”
She wants her mother to sew pockets
onto any garment that doesn’t have them
so she can gather stones and feathers,
acorns, tiny bird skeletons, leaves,
things she might find along a forest path.

“Yet” works like that:
a waiting pocket.
Placeholder for the number to be solved.
Orange flags to show the line of an unbuilt roof.

And gathering works like that, too:
looking around for what shines.
How everything I have ever picked up
helped me know myself a little better.

Like the stones I held tight,
not yet knowing how sure
I would someday become.

Originally published in The Green Shoe Sanctuary