[from Singular Voices: American Poetry Today, edited by Stephen Berg]
I dedicate this poem to Beverly Jackson.
All stones have luck built in. Some
a lucky line that curves a weak green back
into some age prehuman. If stones
could talk they’d tell us how they’ve survived.
They’ve been used in beautiful fences,
been weapons hurled.
The luck of a stone is part of that stone.
It’s not mystical, does not exist just on
the stone like a spell put there by some spirit
in some awkward moment—say the picnic’s
on the verge of disaster, then good wine opened
and the sun suddenly out, and oh the laughter.
But why am I digressing?
These things have nothing to do with stone luck.
I’m speaking real stones. You understand.
Rocks. Not symbols for testicles and not
some lay philosopher’s metaphysical notion
of an indestructible truth. Real stones, the ones
you find lining ocean floors or creek beds
or lying lonely on roads. Probable colors:
blue, yellow, gray, red, green, white or brown.
The luck of each is the same but each suited
to a different situation. That’s why December,
told I was dying of cancer
I picked up a green stone I liked the look of
and carried it in my pocket.
I fondled it just before I took the plane to Seattle.
I kissed it often, both sides before the plane took off,
before biopsy, before major surgery. And now
that surgery seems to have gotten every flake
of sick tissue, I keep the stone on a ledge,
where every morning the sun warms the stone.
When I’m totally recovered, another three months
they say, I’ll throw the stone back where I found it.
I won’t tell you where that is.
The same rock would not work for you no matter
how trivial your problem, how little
luck you need. Please know
I want your life to go on same as mine.
It’s just essential you find your own stone.
It lies somewhere near you now, innocent,
and your eye will spot it in one right moment.
You must hold it close to your ear, and
when it speaks to you, you must respond.