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the man who licked stones

Patrick Friesen
From:   carrying the shadow. Beach Holme Publishing, 1999.


the man in the long coat licked stones memorizing the world's first fire
   on his tongue
he didn't have time to speak though he had nothing else he hadn't
   come to words
his slow hands hung from the stillness of his torn sleeves reaching only
   to touch what he might remember
with his hands he carefully brushed dust from stones with his tongue
   revealed their rose or cobalt blue
he walked outside town on gravel roads he walked outside love too close
   to worship to say
around him earth's rubble and striations sign and witness of the forge
   he longed to find
his mouth craving volcanoes the taste of ash and rain his mouth ground
   stones in his sleep
I thought he would vanish one day spellbound in his cellar among the
   coal and roots
I thought in the end he might walk into the river with his heavy pockets
   but there was no such privilege for him
with the years I forgot him or he became a shape I couldn't see wandering
   around town
I don't know if he took form again or if it was time for me to see but I saw
   him emerge like a photograph in its bath
he was walking past the church he reeled suddenly with a stiff-legged
   pivot and fell straight on his back
no one falls like that the body in surrender to gravity no one falls as if
   nothing matters and nothing did
his eyes glistening like wet sapphires in snow his dead eyes looked
   through us seeing their way into stone



Patrick Friesen's works copyright © to the author.


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