The man stands pondering
His next move

Turning the dull clunker
Over and over in his hands

Feeling for the bone of it
The marrow at its core

Over and over in his hands
He turns the stone

Listening for the dry chalky sound
Of rough against rough

He holds an eon of coiled energy
Latent In his hands, over and over

His feet draw up
The potent heat of the day from the rocks

Words form in his mouth—
Manipulation, transformation, reverence

Small pebbles of evidence
Are sculpted by his hands, over and over.
Recently I had the privilege of watching Scott Woolsey, an artist who lives in New York’s Catskill region,  build a stone cairn on the banks of the Neversink River.


17 thoughts on “THE SOUND OF STONE

  1. Curt Mekemson

    Well done, Melissa. Being a wilderness traveller, I have a special feel for cairns, and their smaller cousins, ducks. I also love tree blazes, especially old ones that mark out pioneer trails. Many a time, I have hiked from cairn to cairn in some remote wilderness, following where they would lead me. Scott has taken what is necessary in pathfinding and turned it into an art form. –Curt

    1. Melissa Shaw-Smith Post author

      Thanks, Curt. Yes, I suspect that humans have been making cairns for as long as we’ve roamed this earth–communication in its most essential form!

    1. Melissa Shaw-Smith Post author

      Thanks, Roger. Yes, we spent at least six hours out there on a glorious early spring day, enjoying nature in its most elemental form. It was fascinating to watch Scott feel his way into the project.

  2. Parmis

    Melissa this is a lovely poem! The title is perfect and the words that follow elevate it higher. Thanks for this meditative treat 🙂

    1. Melissa Shaw-Smith Post author

      Parmis, you put your finger on it–it was a real meditation, watching the artist at work. Thanks so much for reading.

    1. Melissa Shaw-Smith Post author

      Adele, glad you liked it. My profile of the work of the artist Scott Woolsey will appear in the July issue of Dirt magazine. I’ll post a link to it when it comes out. There’ll be lots more photos, including his amazing paintings of the natural world.


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