A favorite around these parts--Carolyn Forche. "The Museum of Stones." I've just started analyzing this, as I read it for the first time while out in Cali last week. Would love to hear what folks think after we digest for a couple hours.

OK, comments open. Like I said, I just read this last week. So I'm not sure what I think. As usual her sense of rhythm is just sick--"stones where the bells had fallen, where the bridges were blown." And then that one beautiful simile--storks crying "like human children"--just sitting in the middle of all this concrete detail is great. Carolyn Forche's poetry is always so muscular--just vivid, precise detail, and then a lovely abstraction right where you least expect it.

The Museum of Stones

This is your museum of stones, assembled in matchbox and tin,

collected from roadside, culvert, and viaduct,

battlefield, threshing floor, basilica, abattoir,

stones loosened by tanks in the streets

of a city whose earliest map was drawn in ink on linen,

schoolyard stones in the hand of a corpse,

pebble from Apollinaire's oui,

stone of the mind within us

carried from one silence to another,

stone of cromlech and cairn, schist and shale, hornblende,

agate, marble, millstones, and ruins of choirs and shipyards,

chalk, marl, and mudstone from temples and tombs,

stone from the silvery grass near the scaffold,

stone from the tunnel lined with bones,

lava of the city's entombment,

chipped from lighthouse, cell wall, scriptorium,

paving stones from the hands of those who rose against the army,

stones where the bells had fallen, where the bridges were blown,

those that had flown through windows and weighted petitions,

feldspar, rose quartz, slate, blueschist, gneiss, and chert,

fragments of an abbey at dusk, sandstone toe

of a Buddha mortared at Bamiyan,

stone from the hill of three crosses and a crypt,

from a chimney where storks cried like human children,

stones newly fallen from stars, a stillness of stones, a heart,

altar and boundary stone, marker and vessel, first cast, lode, and hail,

bridge stones and others to pave and shut up with,

stone apple, stone basil, beech, berry, stone brake,

stone bramble, stone fern, lichen, liverwort, pippin, and root,

concretion of the body, as blind as cold as deaf,

all earth a quarry, all life a labor, stone-faced, stone-drunk

with hope that this assemblage, taken together, would become

a shrine or holy place, an ossuary, immovable and sacred,

like the stone that marked the path of the sun as it entered the human dawn.


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