Virginia Sings Back To the Stones In Her Pockets

by Laurie Byro
Desert Moon Review
Second Place, February 2009
Judged by Elena Karina Byrne

I must get the details right. How stones warbled
to her from the garden for a fortnight or so. Troublesome,
intrusive, they trilled while she weeded anemones. Beneath
the ease of roots and thrust of new growth, they ingratiated

themselves to her prodding callused fingers. They knew
her sister was the lucky one, the one who skimmed flat-brimmed
lake stones with the children. This one lay on the couch
with her eyelids peeled back, mushroom capped stones rattling

in the crèche of her eye sockets. Stones were faithful
as vowels; they didn’t let her down. Night after night,
her husband begged her to push them back into the gully of silence.
Last night, she overturned another patch of fertile earth, brushing

off the smooth and round. She pictures the summer table noisy
with anemones and her sister’s brood. She is washed out, a little
brown thrush. “Drab hen, frump” her sister will urge her to over
come the day’s exacting brushes. I must get the colors right,

melt down her charms to the bare-bone mauves and ochre.
The stones will do their job shortly. Aggressive reds need to be
given back to the soil—to the bridegroom river. We must empty
out all the flecked mica chips from her pockets, the cloth’s blood
stained lullabies, the stones last sweet songs.

Our second place winner "Virginia Sings Back To The Stones In Her Pockets" reminds us of what Poet Laureate Stanely Kunitz said about poetry being ultimately mythology, creating a self we can bear to live and die with. We then might also find metaphor (whose Latin origin means to carry-over), especially extended metaphor, translating experience to reenact the "last sweet songs" of who we are. In this haunting poem, the odd "details" blur between dream and reality, where stones are "faithful as vowels," in the mouth of the imagination. --Elena Karina Byrne