Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Encyclopedia of Stones

(These are entries from James Richardson's Encyclopedia of the Stones - a Pastoral.)

They do not believe in the transmigration of souls.
They say their bodies will move
as leaves through light.

Everything would be perfect if the atoms
were the right shape and did not fall down.

They resent being inscribed
as if they could not remember,
but they congratulate us on the wisdom
of using them to mark graves.

Sand makes them nervous.

They perceive the cosmos as the interior
of a mighty stone.
At night this is perfectly clear.

Long ago
they began to give of their light
to build what we now call the moon.
It was almost finished.

Tradition says they were the paperweights of a lord
whose messages rotted beneath them.
So they think hard.

The old remember being flowers,
but the young ridicule them and remember fire.

This is their heroic myth:
"One afternoon the great stone set out."

It is not over.

They are unable to perceive moths.

They have a dream, but it is taking
all of them all time
to imagine it.

Knowing them to be fond of games, I asked
why they did not arrange themselves
according to the constellations, but they said


Here is another one of their stories:
"One Stone."
Like the others it is characterized
by control of plot and fidelity to the real.

They are experimenting with sex
but are still waiting for the first ones to finish.

When it is unbearably clear,
the stones have taken a deep breath.

When I describe to them how we see a shooting star,
they say "That is how you look to us."

When I tell them how they look to me,
they are elated and describe in turn
something I have never seen and do not understand.

Some of their favorites: October,
salt, flowers, 10 P.M., starfish,
Paul Klee, stories, waiting, the moon.

You know the sky is blue
from the accumulated breath of stones,
or will, next time you are asked.

I told them my favorite story:
"One day."

They liked it except for
the surprise ending.

They know the infinitesimal ways
to the center of peach and oyster,
cherry, brain and heart.

I say "How do you get to the river?"
They say "It will come."

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