Sunday, June 18, 2017

picking rock

I will be dead by eighty-two
I guarantee it
my life insurance expires at
eighty-two so I must
be dead

the world crushes the flower
once bloomed
and too soon picks the blossom
in prospect and hope, in hope of pastels bushed
brushed against a pale canvas
of Monte rain

those who will remain
will understand all my follies
the dog knows who to sleep with
not so all sainted, or
creatures of habit

even as I love being cradled
in the later wisdom of breathing, my glasses
are not quite adjusted for left
or for right, and eighty-three I fear comes
all to quick

should I expire just long of eighty-two
with the wild lily blooming
yet one more year, I do believe it will smell as lovely
as prior, but unlike prior
I will not see it as before

ones loved have what they need
I have gathered the meadow, mustard and all
(though the lily I left it wild)
but this apron is full and heavy and worn and the
laughter sees its shadow in a
summers blaze

Pick rock! Pick rock! until the sky
is red and round and so, so low
follow the rows all dead and unseeded
pile high and higher the stones
watch out for the foot and the shoe that is bare
the cry of late spring (after the thaw)

eighty-two is well enough
I figure the chores will be done, at least for that year
the common will vanish
as the lily comes full
long after the thaw
and the rock has been picked

copyrighted (2017)

for the Poetry Pantry - Poets United 


  1. Interesting to contemplate whether one has an expiration date.....personally I am hoping for more than 82 years. Smiles.

  2. Powerful. The chores will be done. Ones loved have what they need. What it comes down to.

  3. Beautiful writing here, Barbara, with such strong imagery. I love the lily being left wild and free.

  4. Having passed my expiration date, I read this with interest. I am unfamiliar with the term "pick rock", so I will have to think on that. An evocative read, for sure!

    1. I hope to live longer. - just came to me as I was thinking about insurance- picking rock is what you do on a farm where the winters get 20 below zero. The thaw brings them to the surface and the fields have to be cleared before planting...bkm

  5. I so wonder if we need to plan that way... personally I hope to leave when I've spent my last cent (or krona)... But I will linger like that lily..

  6. This was an askance manifesto for me, steering resolute but with wry humor into the devouring storm ... If I haven't picked the big rock by 80 I start shooting up the mirror. Or take the blue pill marked Happy 80th! Until then ... always a pleasure to read your work.

  7. This is so incredibly moving.. I hope and pray that you live long and healthy!❤️

  8. Lovely, fascinating images and metaphors delicately sketched (I was particularly fascinating by 'picking rock'). The piece left me with a sense of something akin to a holler of frustration that is released in a series of fluttered breaths. Powerful writing - brilliant.

    1. Thank you Wendy. I am glad you enjoyed...bkm

  9. Very good and interesting...

    My mother said (the way I was)I'd never live to be 32. At 33 I knew I was in the black and have been living with that acceptance ever since :)

  10. You know that I think this is a great write. It causes us to reflect on now.

  11. This is beautiful introspective poem (almost written for me in my 82nd year!). However I just haven't time to think this way for I am still a young man stuck inside this grumbling body like so many others writing of love and climbing mountains and sailing seas.

  12. What a wonderful reflection! (Perhaps you may decide to renew your insurance instead?)

  13. 82 seems like a fine age to aim for... I love the thoughtfulness of this poem

  14. Replies
    1. Not so sad. Just some strong memories of childhood...bkm

  15. I love how you introduced the device of the lily mid-way into this poem.

    1. Means a lot Fireblossom that you read it. I hope you liked it...bkm

  16. Beautiful writing here, Barbara, with such strong imagery. I love the lily being left wild and free.


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