Mined from quarries, plucked from meadows,
gathered near lakesides throughout the ages
by gnarled and practiced, earth-whorled thumbs,
we may know them as “Oldowan bifaces
giving rise to the Acheulean handaxe,” or simply as
“rocks,” but by any name they left their mark –
cutting, hacking, scraping, and cleaving their way onto
the fossilized bones that remain and the many that do not.
As skill became tradition, and ultimately industry,
generations learned from their elders the skills of knapping
fragile knife points, skipping flat ones across placid streams,
and punishing with blunt force the joys of a young adulteress.
On your way out the door, as the grey
thunderhead gathered for the first slap of rain,
you thought of stones
and their blunt, worn-away contours –
tumbling, moss-covered stones loosened
from moorings with the early inundations of spring,
heavy boulders rolled away from empty tombs,
pebbles resting upon the eyes of the dead.
Just before the first thunderclap spread
a sheet of icy symmetry across
the broad and deepening river,
and you failed to see the trees and their changing leaves,
you thought of stones –
their solid but empty thud against flesh
and their sharp, splintering
crack against bone,
as you pocketed them one after another
in this time of war, weighing your certainty
with numb but practiced fingers
a few short steps from the slippery bank.
Tim Hawkins has lived and traveled widely throughout North America, Southeast
Asia and Latin America, where he has worked as a journalist, technical writer, communications manager, and teacher in international
schools. His writing has appeared in numerous print and online publications, most recently in Blueline, Iron Horse
Literary Review, Lucid Rhythms, The Midwest Quarterly, The Pedestal Magazine, The Shit Creek Review, and Verse
Wisconsin. He was nominated by the journal Four and Twenty for a 2012 Pushcart Prize. He currently lives in his
hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan.