MANUAL LABORS

 

 

Veronica Patterson

Canticle of the Stone

I don’t know when it began, the singing. Again this morning. Humming the
wind, keening the bones, lulling the child. It is not my song but the song of the
stone, cadence of stone cradle, back and forth, back and forth. Rubbing kernels
from years it rained, seeds from years it did not. Rocking empty, rocking full, a
troubadour singing particles of light be tiny for the long hunger. A man’s shadow
falls on my grinding. He lays my stone down. Then, after, the laugh of our
pebble. Tiny O of mouth, curve of cheek, sweep of eyelash. To and fro for this
child, who lives, fro and to for the one who did not. The whetting god I sing to—
the rock sings to—
numbers each hair, numbers each stone, whose skin maps the
sea. Each mineral imperfection not a letter but telling a story to my palm. When I
enter the moonlight utterly, wind one black hair around this stone. Place it, oiled
by my fingers and porous with praise, in my child’s hand. She will lift it to her
ear and sway.