first published in Poetry London
Love is water, our shared history, stone;
each encounter alters us a little.
These limestone rocks
are records of the sea’s wide journeys.
Rollers have pummelled them with glassy tons,
or played tame, froth kissing their skins;
have brought them the world’s particles,
carried some away.
Stones get a taste of life like this;
and water daily meets its limitations.
both are changed by it.
Each of us is water,
each is stone;
to map those elements
in one another, truly.
A few mayfly decades can’t comprehend
how long this shoreline has been trading
with the sea, in an alliance of opposites.
What constellation of improbabilities
has placed a trilobite or scrap of fern
inside some of these stoic rocks
as water, rhetorical and moody,
has lavished inexhaustible experience
in wearing stones into these shapes, these?
let’s hold one another to the light
as if each were the one stone in the world,
as if there’s no end to illumination.
Collectors, beady with desire,
raise their fossil hammers,
the smooth grey bellies of the stones
and, seeing mainly absence,
leave almost all,
inner worlds exposed
for the first time ever;
brown, grey, ochre chronicles
enlightening no one.
Who cares? Not stones.
As water sluices
round their splintered hearts,
with unimaginable slowness
they are becoming sand.
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