A Stone as a Thing of Beauty
There’s nothing you can learn more from
than a stone, but it takes patience.
The rest of nature’s 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 you’ll spend eternity.
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 can’t 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 can’t 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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