Breathing Your Name into Word and Stone

If your flesh cools
my bones bleach,

I’ll breathe
your name into word and stone;

sing you eternal.

linked to Poets United, Poetry Pantry 269
(the post below describes the memory that inspired this poem)

I’m not quite sure when I started collecting stones, not exactly. I remember being very young, four or five years old, and gathering the smoothest and roundest rocks that would fit my big brother’s slingshot. He was very good at hunting birds for food; he spent a lot of time on it; and I really loved spending a lot of time with him. If I had a few good stones in my pockets, he would take me hunting with him… if I didn’t make too much noise or get in the way.

My brother stopped hunting, but I continued collecting stones. I’m attracted to their shapes, colors, textures—the ones that feel extra smooth against my cheek are my favorites; I love them as much as I love the rocks that smell like dry summer rain… wet and warm and earthy.

A bit over seventeen years ago, during my first year in college, I met a person who became one of the best friends I’ve ever had. I didn’t like her very much… at first. I was forced to work with her on a Spanish literature project. I was convinced that she never worked as hard as I did; when she did try to contribute, her efforts ended up creating more work for me. And I really disliked that whenever I left the room, I came back to find her eyes fixed on my stuff.

The morning the project was due, I went for a walk before class. After spending a day—and most of its night—working on a conclusion that should’ve taken no more than a couple of hours, I needed to clear my mind. Collecting stones around a nearby lake always did the job for me.

I stopped a few yards from the lake. My project partner was crouching by the water, staring my way… I said nothing when she began to walk towards me, her hat held like a bowl in front of her… a sheepish grin on her face. I looked at the hat when she offered it to me. It was full of stones.

“I’m a very slow reader,” she said. “I don’t get things as quickly as you do, and my ideas take a long time to show up.” When I said nothing, she added, “Look, I know you didn’t want or enjoy teaming with me. But you didn’t push me aside and you didn’t try doing the work for me.” She lowered her eyes, and whispered, “Even when we both know that doing the whole thing would’ve probably been easier for you.”

I glanced at the stones in the hat, feeling a tad weirded out.

She laughed, and said, “Oh, I didn’t see any quartz pebbles in your rock collection. I thought you might like some. It’s a gift for giving me a chance. I’m bad at seeing what people mean in stories, but I’m good at seeing rocks. Thank you?”

“You aren’t all that terrible,” I said, accepting the hat.

She raised an incredulous eyebrow.

I looked away, and grinned.

Today, I was informed of her death. She lived a short but extremely happy life. Her patience, her grit, and her ability to nurture her blessings, saved many lives… turned her into a forever friend… made her unforgettably loved.



Of Banshees and Clean Underpants

“You promise?”

“I promise.”

The old heart slowed as summer began to fall towards October.

She howled her promise into the night.

When her cry was swallowed by the roaring of too much city, she ran… but arrived too late—Death took her friend before the Banshee could warn her to change into clean underpants.

Process Note
: a couple of days ago, I spent time with a group of ladies who have lived for a very long time. We were discussing myths associated with death, when one of them said, “It might be nice to befriend a banshee.” I asked why, and she answered, “Am I the only one who would like some warning, so I can change into clean underpants before the big trip?” Then, pointing towards the city, she added, “With all this damn noise, the banshee might not be able to shriek loud enough.”

for the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads – Flash 55 Plus

Lucy, by A Little Company
“Lucy”, by A Little Company, “Forever in mid joyful expression, in a natural state of being, she is sure to inspire and remind you to live life to the fullest.”

Flesh Wounds

“The calendar lies,
saying that only years have gone by;
my heart,
my flesh wounds
have ached for centuries.
Centuries-long winters
of nightly cold sweats
looking at your ageless face
behind clotting scarlet
~ Magaly Guerrero

This is a stanza from “Out of the Shadows”, a poem I wrote some years ago, in memory of a friend who was killed in action… The death of the four Marines who were gunned down in Chattanooga, Tennessee, brought back the same kind of sorrow. I didn’t know those men, but when lives are wasted… anyone with a blood-pumping heart ends up feeling the pain. May their souls, and the hearts of those they left behind, find some peace… soon.

Otriesse (Pop Surrealism), by Kristof CorvinusOtriesse (Pop Surrealism), by Kristof Corvinus; in his description, the artist calls her a “Spring goddess”. I think the detail makes Otriesse the perfect companion for this remembrance post… for in times of loss and darkness, symbols of rebirth might bloom hope.