Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2 Rocks

A few decades ago I wrote a poem based on an experience I had as a grade school teacher supervising the morning playground. A young man had found a special rock amongst the tens of thousands that lay across the play area. I watched as he squatted close to the ground, careful not to scuff the knees of his “school” jeans. He fondled the misshapen object, holding it up to his eye and then at arm’s length. Pushing it through the air like an airplane and crashing it to the ground. He continued to play with his new found treasure until the bell rang. He moved slowly to the end of the line outside his classroom still holding it tightly in his fist. When he reached the doorway his teacher took it from him. She tossed the rock back into the playground as she ushered him inside, his head turned over his shoulder to try and find it again in the sea of gravel.

The Rock

Patiently waiting throughout time,
Layered textures, smooth yet jagged,
Secure in its lonely place.
Finally lifted from the cold earthy mass,
Flecks of crystals and colors,
Admired by warm young hands...
First a fish, then a meteor, maybe a man or?
Carried home like an egg,
Tucked carefully in a jacket pocket,
Caressed by small fingers,
Desired for its magic...
"That's dirty, go wash your hands!"
Cast aside, back to the earth
Alone again, dying...       

I tucked the writing away not thinking much about it for a very long time. Years later a week or so after my father passed away I was given the task of sorting through his things. That included a small package of the items that were in his pockets when he was admitted to the hospital. As I dutifully spread them across his dresser something unexpectedly appeared among the keys and coins. It was a small rock; nothing special, certainly not a gemstone, not part of a keychain or anything explainable. I examined it for a few minutes; its smooth surface, delicate veining and nondescript shape. Holding it in my hand I tried to make sense of it. And then I remembered the young boy and his rock. This one had succeeded where his had failed. So I wrote a second poem – Dad’s Rock.

Dad’s Rock

Found among his pocket’s contents
Veined with colors and sparkling crystals
Smooth and shiny from wear
No particular shape, No particular value
Why is it here? Where did it come from?
What connects this piece of earth to him?
Calloused hands had held and caressed its shape,
Why? A good luck charm perhaps
Kept tucked in his pocket, for how long?
What magic did it bring?
I’ll hold it as he must have held it,
I’ll keep it safe, as he did
It’s part of him…
Now it’s part of me too…

I still have his rock. I don’t carry it every day, I save it’s for magic for special days. When I do, I find myself drawn to it, holding it tightly in my hand or rubbing its glossy surface. My mind often turns to trying to decipher its mystery to no avail. It is a connection that I will never understand, but one that I will covet as he did. It makes me happy that once he found it and enjoyed its power that it wasn’t cast aside by someone who wouldn’t have understood.

Find a rock of your own… actually it doesn't have to be a rock. It could be just a metaphor for those things in your life that bring you joy, happiness or love. When you find them, keep them close, nurture them, caress them… let them do their magic!

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