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Sarah Lorntson


readingAgate Picking

For Art

We sat together a long time, you and I,
Our toes numbing in the cold waters of Lake Superior
On a rocky shore that seemed at the edge of the world,
Blue stretching out infinitely before us.
You told me stories of your rough and rugged youth:
The hard edges you shed over the years
As you learned tenderness and forgiveness.

We sifted through the stones long worn smooth by wind and water--
Rusty banded agates, translucent quartz, mica-flecked granite, glassy obsidian--
Mottled and earthy, clacking beneath the sweep of our hands.
We picked through them to occupy our hands, to give us an excuse to speak freely.
To touch each other would break the spell.
We punctuated our conversation with the satisfying plunks of stones
Tossed to disrupt the calm, blue waters.
Stones that were also jagged once,
Their hardness yielding to the constant gentleness of nature’s forces.

Is this what happened to you over the span of decades?
What happens to all of us in the years between childhood and wisdom?
Surrendering our sharpness to life’s waves,
Bumping and grating against other rocks
Who steal that sharpness from us;
Dulling our edges, eroding our armor,
Clarifying our colored striations, our unique and delicate features,
Until we, too, become cool, rounded stones
That fit neatly into the warm palm of another’s hand?