Stone riddle

October 9, 2003

What is it about stones?

Charles Simic tries an answer with this poem:

The Stone

Go inside a stone
That would be my way
Let somebody else become a dove
Or gnash with a tiger’s tooth.
I am happy to be a stone.

From the outside the stone is a riddle:
No one knows how to answer it
Yet within, it must be cool and quiet
Even though a cow steps on it full weight,
Even though a child throws it in a river;
The stone sinks, slow, unperturbed
To the river bottom
Where the fishes come to knock on it
And listen.

I have seen sparks fly out
When two stones are rubbed,
So perhaps it is not dark inside after all;
Perhaps there is a moon shining
From somewhere, as though behind a hill —
Just enough light to make out
The strange writings, the star-charts
On the inner walls.

Charles Simic

stone 2

The stone I am holding in my hand is definitely a beach stone. Its shape rounded by who knows how many hundreds of years of wave action.

But it was far from the beach when I came upon it.

On Tuesday morning, in light mist, while walking around an area of land just off the Peace Path, an area of land I have never walked on before, there it lay half buried, glinting and shining like some polished jewel; like some dark moon shining.

The only way it could have gotten there was for an aboriginal man or woman to have carried it there; possibly even a child. The riddle I ask myself is: “When was the last time this stone was picked up and held?”

I close my eyes and allow myself to feel a black hand cupping this stone.

When it was put down could the holder foresee the tragedy about to fall across all of Tasmania?

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