A Poem


I've had poetry on my mind.  When Amy and Justin were visiting it was like a creative revival.  We talked so much about photography, music, quilting and writing.  My writing days seem so far behind me and part of me wants them to come back.

Poetry is a practice, kind of like photography and music. I would need to get into shape to become a poet again. I'd need to write and read.  Notice I don't say write and read more.  I seriously seldom do either.  


I thought of this poem because Wyatt was curious about my brothers that died.  This poem contains some of the few memories I have surrounding Richard's death.  I was 5 and a half. Also, the other day, Hank found a clear glass rock that I think I had in some kind of scripture study kit for the kids.  Retelling the story about the glowing stones* reminded me of my mom.  I'm so thankful I was raised in a house of faith.

*story of a prophet in the Book of Mormon who asked the Lord to touch some small stones so they would glow and provide light while they traveled in dark ships.

The White Rock in the Desert 

A roadrunner drowned in the pool that morning.
I was too young to understand
why we couldn’t swim with it,
     that long tail of brown feathers.
Mom took me for a walk instead, to look at rocks in the wash.

We crawled through a hole in the fence
behind the condos, climbed down
into the dry river bed among smooth ovals and loaves.
The desert was purple in early April.
Shrubs and rocks spread up the slope of Smoke Tree. 
When we stopped to notice rabbit pellets and gourds, 
I asked if we could really drink water from a cactus. 
The rocks in the riverbed were black with silver specks,
and gray like heavy bird eggs. 

We picked them over, hefted them through.
And quite naturally, my mom explained
that he had been very small. 
About the size of my favorite doll, Sara,
who slept in the top drawer of my dresser. 
She said he only breathed for two days, but with help.
She and my dad held him, all wrapped up,
for his final few minutes.

I spotted the reflection of a white rock. 
She picked it up and turned it over in her hand. 
It was clear and shined in the sun. 
She said we would keep it and put it on his casket
along with moss and daffodils. 
She didn’t say, but I knew the rock glowed
because it had been touched by Jesus, for us.

Years later, I sit on my parents bedroom floor
with a manila folder, pictures
of a baby taped with tubes,
a hospital band small as a hair tie,
and a paper with his hands and feet
stamped in purple ink, each one with six fingers and six toes.
My thoughts go to that desert walk, so far away,
and the rock still glowing
so far beneath the cemetery grass.

4 Comments:

  1. kate said...
    You write beautifully.
    Matt D said...
    Very powerful writing. Going from one image to the other, and then back to original really conveyed a lot. Thank you for sharing this.

    Beautiful writing.
    Amy Hackworth said...
    Wow, Sally. This is so beautiful. I love to picture you as a little girl, and I see those same thoughtful and inquisitive ways in your boys. I'm struck by your mom's sensitivity to you when she must have been grief stricken.

    "...and the rock still glowing
    so far beneath the cemetery grass." So pretty.
    Amy Hackworth said...
    P.S. I LOVED being at your house. Here's a to creative revival!

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