Br ims t one
Stones 1994
Off the coast of Maine, there are double beaches
where waves forever tumble black stones in deep
water, shifting, rolling off Brimstone Island. Never
a certain place to anchor, in any kind of wind.
I’ve met people who carry small Brimstones
in their pockets for years, oiled by dirt
and loose change, the stone fitting the pinch
of their fingers, a quiet pleasure.
One of my acupuncture patients brought me one
that fit perfectly, like a child’s hand in my palm.
Patients who were afraid of the brief needle sting
held the stone for comfort. When my father died,
as I packed and dashed before dawn for my flight,
I took the black stone in my pocket. That last day
he lay in the weight of the world, his body covered
in gray cloth, I uncovered his heavy hand, curled
into a fist. My hands warmed his cold clenched
fingers, working the black sea-smoothed Brimstone
until it disappeared into his grasp, so he would not be
alone when he slipped into the blue-laced orange fire.
Stones 2007
I brought my new love stones from Herring
Cove in a bowl of water. My first gift. They
slipped, agate red, jasper green, speckled
granite, between our fingers, as we spoke
of stones. I told him, “After my father died,
I took one of the black smooth stones from
Brimstone Island and pressed it into his hand.”
He gazed at me, “After my wife died, I filled
her hands with stones from Brimstone Island.”
We looked at each other a long time, before
turning away. Later he wondered out loud,
“Who are you to be in my life?”
He wept when I wrote “I want to have
loved someone so much, that they would
fill my hands with stones when I leave.
I would offer that gift to them.”
* *
A year later, after he said we were over,
he confessed, “I didn’t love you enough
to fill your hands with stones when you
died.” Later, after he closed the door and
I drove away, I knew I could love anyone
well enough to leave a stone in their hands.
working the black, sea-smoothed Brimstone
until it disappeared into his grasp
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