December 2005, #12                           
Fred Moramarco                                                  

A Stone as a Thing of Beauty

Theres nothing you can learn more from
than a stone, but it takes patience.
The rest of natures easy to enjoy -
trees, clouds, rivers, the boundless sky,
the moon, the sun, the astonishing stars - these even the careless can love.
But a stone needs to be approached with care
if you want something from it.
It rewards a slowness of time:
hold it in your hand a while
and watch it turn into a mountain;
toss it into the air and make it a planet
hurtling through the abyss;
catch it and feel the way youll spend eternity.

Address Book

Last night, cleaning out the desk
I found an old address book
bent and battered, pages yellowed, curled,

the cover a mottled blue,
stained with ink, wine, coffee,
who knows what else?

It had been there in the corner of a drawer
for years now. I opened it with care
half-imagining that small, exotic birds

would fly out of it, chirp for a moment,
and fall dead at myfeet.
I fixed on a name: Biancamaria Tedeschini-Lalli

and suddenly Italy, 1972 seemed present in the room:
faces of students, scenes in streets, the decor of pensiones,
the clock tower in Venice, my son Stephen, then 4, in awe of it,

an Italian friend, Osvaldo Croce, piggy-backing my son Nick across the Piazza San Marcos, the nostalgia so thick now, I cant see the present.

I turn the page to Lee Saitta,
my sister, an X through the name,
dead - how many years now? - in Salt Lake,

and Ben Santoli, my old sidekick,
dealing cards in Vegas for decades,
out of touch with him since the 70s.

I cant flip through much more of this -
closing the book, I think about throwing it away,
but put it back instead in the corner

of the drawer where it came from, carefully,
like a rabbi returning the torah to its sacred place.
A scripture reminding me who I am.


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