The Value of Stones by Michael Quattrone

black stones
365 Stones by Terry Bateman. CC license.


It’s never what they weigh; it’s not the depth
of silence they have known; it’s not the round-
or hardness of their edges, certain color
or uncertain age that proffer worth. Metals,
crystals, precious on their own, may dwell
within the body of a rock, but never mind
those false alarms of wealth. The treasure
of each stone lives in its skill: the subtle art
of timing, moving even still, invisible
for eons—until now, when heavy, sad,
I sought a place to put my head, first walk
without the old dog; not wanting to
remember, nor forget the creamy softness
of her faithful fur, one velvet ear; her
eager and then fallen eyes, her earthy
nose, dank breath; her batting tail and puppy
temperament, until her body failed. I
sank down and something bore me up: a piece
of bed unnoticed on the overlook
we’d risked each day on our six aging legs—
but here it was: a stone that never left
a man unturned. I sat and stayed, I curled
up and yelped. It polished me, the surface
of the hurt I felt. Such is the kindness
of a rock: however ancient, deep or sharp,
it waits, the patient body of the earth
immune to what afflicts our softer flesh,
as we dig up what modest giftedness
we can in human time. The measure of
a stone, and what it marks, is never mine.

MIchael Quattrone
Michael Quattrone is the author of the chapbook, Rhinoceroses (New School, 2007). His poems have appeared in journals like Barrow Street, New York Quarterly and Pool, as well as the Best American Erotic Poems (Scribner, 2008) and the Incredible Sestina Anthology (Write Bloody, 2018).

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