A Few Cobbles from HOW THE STONES CAME TO VENICE
By Gary Lawless[Editors’ note: The following is excerpted from Gary Lawless’s latest book of poetry, How the Stones Came to Venice, in which Gary generously shares some of his lithic insights from his & his wife Beth Leonard’s visits to Venice and from their home in Maine, where they run Gulf of Maine Books (please support independent bookstores!). We highly recommend getting your own copy of this gem of a book, which will remind you that stones are living beings, too. The book is available through its publisher, Littoral Books, of Portland Maine, which kindly granted us permission to run this excerpt.]
Coming to Stone
My grandfather, Lester Dow, came from
Prospect, Maine. Prospect and its
neighboring town Frankfort were granite
towns, with quarries on Mount Waldo and
Mosquito Mountain. Lester had a store
in Prospect, serving the local farmers
My grandfather Lester
Walked down, down
To his store
At the crossroads of town –
Now buried with Hannah
His wife, across
the road low
On the hillside, there also
My mother’s first school.
My uncle walked down,
Down to the marsh and
To the mill, making paper,
The mill now
Soon to be gone—
From Prospect the land
Falls down to the river,
Penobscot, to Bucksport, beyond—
And the whole world,
Somewhere, below us,
We have been to those quarries,
touched the stone. In granite time,
stone time, things move slowly.
My grandfather has just left.
I can almost hear his voice.
Driving home from Belfast
into the crescent moon
I hear the granite singing,
And it is alive.
I want to tell you
That granite is a migratory species—
(Think plate tectonics, continental
Drift, glacial erratic)
But you can read the flow lines
From when granite was liquid
And moving quickly—
I want to tell you
That lichen is a language of granite
That granite speaks
With air and water and light
We might never know
What stories it holds,
Deep within the rock
I can almost hear his voice
Gary Lawless is a poet, bioregional advocate, and co-founder of Gulf of Maine Books, in Brunswick Maine.
He and his wife Beth Leonard care-take the old farm of Henry Beston & Elizabeth Coatsworth (both acclaimed authors of the mid-20th century), near Damariscotta Lake.
Gary’s score of poetry collections includes Poems for the Wild Earth and Caribou Planet. His new book of poems is How the Stones Came to Venice, and his poetry blog.