Just a single, rough, gray pebble,
as slight as a fingernail,
as tiny as a chip off a full-formed
wish, like an irritant wedged
between foot and sandal that could,
with much patience and persistence,
be saved and made into something
not big but on its way to small
then—eventually—larger: a statue, even,
holding up a torch. But this is not
about construction. There are a zillion
crushed stones as far as your peripheral
vision can see. And they are monochrome
and crowded. And they are as tall as twin towers
and wrap around the world. Face the wall.
Put your hands on it, your fingers a chisel.
It is a single, rough, gray pebble.
Start with that.
What Her Teacher Said about Nagasaki and Hiroshima
She said what
she said was “If you look she said was
straight up into the horror of
was she said not sun
she said but bomb was what she said exploding suns,
exploding decimating what she said was us
she said what she said and your eyes ours
hers theirs what she said was
melting, melted would melt.” And that is
everything is all
she was what she said was
is was what she said That is all
Previously published in Sonic Boom.
Found and Not Found
And when I lost you on the beach,
you were crossing only the threshold of the tide—
the Atlantic, not the Suchiate River or the Gulf—
and when discovered ten long moments later,
you raised your small hand and waved,
unaware of the terror in a parent’s empty arms.
Go back, young one, to the life you never lost
to find those crying for the hand
that held them all night across the rough
crossing, only to lose them now in the dead
of night beside a border where patrols,
working the late shifts, grieve for their own
screaming children, much farther away
than the arm’s length these small ones know
no longer. Lost child of mine
who grew up to flee far beyond
the search for sand dollars and shells,
hover over these unprotected strangers,
as tiny as you were
when the great ocean roared
its omens and you turned
quickly back into my seeking arms
aware only that someone
larger than you had desperately
called your name. Go now.
Do the same.
Professor of English and Creative Writing at Lock Haven University, Marjorie Maddox has published 11 collections of poetry—including Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation (Yellowglen Prize)—the prose collection What She Was Saying (Fomite); children’s books; Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania (co-editor; PSU Press); Presence (assistant editor); and 550+ stories, essays, and poems in journals and anthologies. www.marjoriemaddox.com
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