To tell any story of you I should begin with stone –
Marbles, granites, slates – in slabs and blocks so large
They surrounded the family plant like cold-faced
Soldiers, armed not to keep out, but to keep safe
The secret knowledge: how to turn function to art,
How to harvest beauty from earth’s dark home.
We could count on you to be part of our home.
After school days and weekends of shaping stone
You appeared at our table, wearing your appetite large
And wooing my sister until our brother’s blank face
(Your best friend’s cold face) blinked there was no safe
Way to have them both. Somehow, for you, the art
Was in the trying. At work, you created a new art
Cutting and carving miniature relief scenes – of home
And history and Greek goddesses in soft marble stone
Streaked pink and black – with callused hands larger
Than the finished pieces. My sister lowered her face
In refusal of that first gift. Believing you were too safe,
She married someone else. You married, to be safe,
Someone who didn’t care to understand the delicate art
Of your labor. Soon, some chasm reached your home,
Splitting you in silence until you no longer were stone
But shards and pieces scattered at the bottom of a large
Abyss, unwhole. Your grief too hard for you to face,
You led your wife along a trail up to a rocky west face
Above a summer pool. Here, you thought, you were safe
To perfect an absolute stillness between you, a terrible art,
And somehow avenge the jagged cleavage in your home.
You struggled (the papers would later report) until stones
Slipped, hands unclasped, the space between grew large.
Like a pebble thrown, your wife’s body created no large
Ripples until shallow breath returned and she surfaced
Flailing, waving one unbroken arm to show she was safe.
But it was too late for you, whose new attempts at art
Had once again failed, and so you turned to go home
To become immovable, unreachable, a dumb stone.
At home, you recorded failures and defeats you faced
In large hurried script, writing to set forever in stone
One final success: a safe shot to the head, your newest art.