Let Rocks Speak by Mary Belardi Erickson

After €œApril is the cruelest month, € T.S. Eliot

I.

Earth surrounds you, my rough-orange Chessie.
Earth retrieved you through its door.
Raccoons quarrel in the yard without your night patrol.
Covered with daisy rugs and a new red collar on,
your head rests on a corduroy purple pillow.
You are held deeply like a queen’s companion
in cool repose.

Forgetting, I think you waiting in cool May grass.
I see your shining eyes–expectantly bright.
That morning I closed them.
They had watched for me one last time.
By excavating, we had you laid six feet deep
where summer heat will bother you no more.
At first, I kept watered there marigolds and zinnias.
We planted orange tulips and peony bushes
to watch for each spring.

I picked from the field white, beige-dappled stones
and laid them on the porch where your doghouse stood,
where I found you–the sheen still in your eyes.
One tear-shaped rock appeared a condensation
of your faithful heart.

White field rock gave me comfort;
that’s what I knew and did not expect more.
Yet in late summer, at the animal shelter
the porch stones’ colors–white and beige-spotted–
pranced before me in a long-furred spaniel-mix,
my husband named Buttons.

II.

On her window seat–as still as stone–
she intently peers with her brown eyes
at lengthening green and purple phlox
beginning to tower.
Out under the Mountain Ash
she tilts her nose into swift, moistened air
blowing ear flaps back.
Her alert stillness fills my silence
as rain touches skin, Earth’s anointing.
In the ash tree, diseased bark nourishes,
a deepened brown of spring’s wet ritual.
The least of momentarily dry spirits
shake off in downpour.

_____________________________________________
Mary Belardi Erickson has been partial to poetry since her childhood in Concord Township, Dodge County, Minnesota. Emily Dickinson was her first favorite poet. She was educated at Augsburg College, Drake and Purdue Universities. These were the nomadic years for her: living in various cities, studying and teaching. The 1990’s found her returning to a country setting, Hayes Township, Swift County, Minnesota. Her poems are now available in online and print journals. She was nominated for Dancz Books Best of the Web 2010. For €œAs a leaf, € she received 2nd place in the 2009 Numinous Magazine Poetry Prize, New Zealand. Her work appears in Sephyrus Press’ No Fresh Cut Flowers: Afterlife Anthology and Silver Boomer Books’ From the Porch Swing — memories of our grandparents. Her e-chapbook, Back-stepping Between Two Bridges, can be found at victorianvioletpress.com. Karen Kelsay, editor and poet, has selected Mary’s chapbook While You Blue-step to be published 2012 by Aldrich Publishing. Her web site is MaryBelardiErickson.com.

*Competition entry*

6 thoughts on “Let Rocks Speak by Mary Belardi Erickson”

  1. I recently lost my dog, too. Makes you feel like one of Tolkien’s elves when a pet dies. How much longer-lived we are by comparison to the furry ones.

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  2. When I lost Ruby, my Siberian husky companion of 10 years, to cancer back in the 90s, I felt a sun set. A remarkably intelligent being she opened my eyes to new insight into animal life.

    We are about to welcome a new member to our family, a puppy. I’m looking forward to how her arrival will change our household dynamics.

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  3. We just got pets… two puppies. WE haven’t had animals for fifteen years or so because we were renting. We’re just re-learning the unique relationship one has with animals that are family members.

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  4. I nearly took in a black lab pup that a kind-hearted young woman plucked off the street and brought to church in hopes of finding it a home, but my wife exercised her veto. A few weeks later, my wife’s chihuahua was banished to new digs. Apartments and dogs are a testy mix.

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  5. I grew up where I could have a dog, but then in apartments for many years, I did not. Moving into the country, I adopted an adult Chesapeake Bay Retriever who was afraid of gunfire and not good for hunting, therefore abandoned. She became that one truly special pet of a lifetime for me. She went over frozen field or into the overgrown wilds–everywhere I hiked. As Mark said, we are Tolkien elves in comparison, so, yes, too soon my old dog’s haunches needed a boost up from the creek bed. She could no longer leap, though she would run to meet me, no matter how difficult it must have been for her.
    Our 2 year old Buttons was a repeated runaway. For her own safety, she had to adjust to not being an errant knight in “spring’s anointing.” Now at six, she knows she can’t be outside without being attached to a cable leash. As in the poem, I stay outside with her, being part of her journey,albeit restricted.

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