I’m a stonemason by trade, but the county
has let me marry people for twenty years.
Nothing is quite like seeing a couple
set off on their life together.
I like to think our meeting is the start
of something solid, built on stone.
I do chimneys, patios and garden walls,
but a fireplace is my favorite job of all.
I save out local limestone with fossil shells,
wonders from the earth to lay in the mantle and hearth.

One couple I just married is moving
to Reno, a town famous for divorce
if I recall, but there’s plenty of rock out there
and I married them on the nearest mountain.
That Western country would be something to see
but I’m satisfied in Arkansas
even if our scenery’s not as grand.
I spent a lifetime learning how to work
this Ozark stone, where to find the grain
and color that’s right for every job,
where to hit a slab and make it cleave.

JUSTICE OF THE PEACE by William Notter