Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, STONE, by MARK VAN DOREN

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

STONE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: As I drove by a pasture, under the sun,
Last Line: But when could she have learned that she was stone?
Subject(s): Stones; Granite; Rocks

As I drove by a pasture, under the sun,
I saw a rough gray stone at the farther side
Get up and walk. It was a withered woman,
And she was gathering mullein leaves; for soon
She stooped again, and was remade a stone.
Suppose her, then, a stone, and what the loss?
Granting that sound was frozen in those ears,
Within, more deep, in many lurking-places
Echoes were piping of a long-past laughter,
Barking of some one's dog, a carriage wheel,
Slamming of doors in a night-risen wind,
Sullen response of husband, croon of child.
Stones are not inhabited at the core.
There were two eyes, in a thick-wrinkled skin,
That fixed a mullein plant and plucked it up,
Or sent five fingers to surround it, so --
Fingers that rubbed the softness and remembered
Velvet and down, or once a horse's nose.
Granting the eyes' dead luster, yet within
Day floated, as it floats beyond old windows;
And memories were infinite as motes.
Her tongue, perhaps, anticipated tea;
Her throat already twitched to take it down;
Already, under her bonnet, she was back
Warming her oven carefully for the bread.
Both here and there she sat. By its own thought
Can a rock rest upon another hill?
In certain veins the blood ran thinly now,
And once tormented nerves were lying dead,
Yet only seemed to die. Thy still could throb;
Along their shrunken valleys still might race
The current from a womb that once was full.
And were that single daughter to return,
Be seen across the pasture, coming slow,
This palate would be suddenly stung with fire,
These bowels would ache to ashes. Were she stoned,
I countered, she would never be consumed.
But when could she have learned that she was stone?

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