Mark vs Cancer

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Skipping Stones

I was skipping stones over a remote mountain lake with Grant today, and I thought of a poem I wrote years ago about such an event.  Juvenilia, for sure, but I like the rambling rhyme scheme, the wilderness imagery, and the metaphors of opportunities gained and lost, the endurance of hope, the resiliency of the human spirit, the blessings of a short memory.

Or it's just a poem about a dude skipping a rock.

After skipping rocks, Grant and I built a campfire and then watched the sliver of moon set and the stars emerge, which reminded me of a similar moment several years ago.  My boy is growing up.


The Perfect Skipper


The wilderness traveler
happened upon the stone
and stooping, seized it so to skim
out over the slow bend in the river.
The canyon walls were growing dim.
The silken blue sky had kept
for a day's time
the stratus clouds bound
that now ignited and burned
rose and apricot into their native lime
then began to unravel or
sublimate into forever
for without so much as a sound
they surrendered to higher winds and dissipated.
He was alone
and out along the river he casually stepped.
In his hand the thin flat rock turned.
Such a skipper as this
he anticipated
seven or eight times might kiss
the green and silver surface
yet still reach
the purple shale slides strewn
along the opposing beach.
And if there on impact it should splinter?
This was of no concern, for by then
it will have fulfilled its purpose.
He grinned
cradled and gripped
his perfect skipper
then with precision let it fly.
But the downstream rapid's din
disguised the kerplunk.
It skipped
not once before it sunk.
Were it winter
even late autumn
it would have skated across like a hockey puck.
But swollen with warmer waters in June
the deep river bend
offered no such luck.
Its green elbow
absorbed the stone like a coin
compelling it to join
the rolling gravel at the bottom.
He stared out
at where the skipper had gone.
It's just as well, he thought,
then looked to the deepening night sky
taunting with its iridescent Dipper.
He looked at his feet
stones all around
but none quite so sweet
could just then be found.
He recalled a trout--
a rainbow--
he once had caught.
He spit, ambled on
and soon forgot.

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