Words Made of Stone

If you write “at” and I read “on,” we will miss the train,
dinner will burn in the oven, the Madagascar Palm Tree
will flower before we reach the Indian Ocean,
and we will have to leave a note to our descendants
asking them to carry our ashes to the white cliffs of Dover,
fanning them into the winds like a momentary delta
of salts and lost thoughts.

If you say “gone” and I hear “song,” the movie’s story
will be untranslatable, and the road beneath our feet
will bury us under gravel kicked up by misfirings,
by faulty definitions, and trails overgrown with malaprops
for “vine” and “fern” and “rotting branch,”
rendering our jungle guide mute
as he leads us by memory lapses, on to a crag
of crumbling chalk and black flint.

Eventually the journal of our common song
will be forgotten so long its words become a puzzle
with no solution. We will have only its paper
encasing a meaning of wood measured in a shade
of dead aspen leaves, like the first note of a sonata
locked in a creaky gate, a score that will only open
for the key stored inside a child’s ear, and sealed away
by the first question he asked that was answered
with a question, as hard as granite, and which
he will spend his life chipping away and shaping.

WORDS MADE OF STONE by Michael T. Young

Photo used under CC.


About Author


Michael T. Young's third full-length collection, The Infinite Doctrine of Water, was published by Terrapin Books. His chapbook, Living in the Counterpoint (Finishing Line Press), received the 2014 Jean Pedrick Chapbook Award from the New England Poetry Club. His other collections include The Beautiful Moment of Being Lost (Poets Wear Prada), Transcriptions of Daylight (Rattapallax Press), and Because the Wind Has Questions (Somers Rocks Press). He received a fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the Chaffin Poetry Award. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous print and online journals including The Cimarron Review, The Cortland Review, Edison Literary Review, Lunch Ticket, The Potomac Review, and Valparaiso Poetry Review. His work is also in the anthologies Phoenix Rising, Chance of a Ghost, In the Black/In the Red, and Rabbit Ears: TV Poems. He lives with his wife and children in Jersey City, New Jersey.

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