Stones

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March SOLC–Day 3

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Recent news about the vandalism in the historic Jewish cemetery, Chesed Shel Emeth, in St. Louis, Missouri made me terribly sad. I struggled with this poem and still question whether I should include the third verse or end after the second.

Stones

Once, long ago, a friend told me
that in the Jewish faith
some mourners leave stones
at the graves of their loved ones,
not delicate blossoms
fated to fade and decay
“The stones will endure,” she said.
I understood the allure of the solidity
of granite, quartz and crystal
in the quagmire of grief.
I imagined the healing process
of selecting a rock, 
one special rock,
for a texture, a color, a shape
or a memory
then gently placing it atop a gravestone
an enduring message of love and
connection

Yesterday I read about vandalism.
In a Jewish cemetery far across the country
someone toppled and heaved headstones,
desecrating with orchestrated hate
I imagined those carefully selected small stones,
tumbling in small percussive bursts
from the top of the disturbed monuments
then rolling along the ground
to rest in mute accusation
at the feet of the vandals
Messages of love unmoored

I yearn to travel to that cemetery and
gather the scattered stones and pebbles
I want to hold them tightly cupped in my hand
until they warm and I can feel my pulse
beating in their core
until I can set them one by one
upon newly straightened tombstones,
imbue them with serenity
and with deepest apology
for the mindless hatred
that disturbed this sacred place.
Each stone a whisper and a wish
Rest in peace.

Molly Hogan (c) 2017

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Photo from http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/putting-stones-on-jewish-graves/

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by the amazing Heidi Mordhorst at her blog, My Juicy Little Universe. Click on the link to enjoy some more poetry!

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33 thoughts on “Stones

  1. The vandalism and hate are terrible! This poem reminds us all to do what we can to repair this hate. The stones. I love that image. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. dogtrax says:

    I think the second and third stanzas work, powerfully.
    This line — “Messages of love unmoored” — pitch perfect.
    Kevin

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Amy Warntz says:

    Thank you for including the third stanza. It’s powerful. “Each stone a whisper and a wish, rest in peace.” That is my favorite and perhaps I can feel the sadness right there.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The third stanza adds the power and emotion to the poem. Keep your poem as is and send it to the major newspaper and an online outlets in St. Louis. Masterful poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Here is the link to the St. Louis Post Dispatch http://www.stltoday.com/

    Like

  6. Appreciations for this powerful piece, Molly.

    I’m going to go against the grain & pause while you ponder the last verse. It is important because it talks of your hoped for action, in lyrical language, but I do think ending at the 2nd verse has a wallop.
    Whatever you decide will be the best.

    My hubby & I (not Jewish) stand with you in our anger & sadness about the wave of hate speech & actions not only for Jews, but it seems, anyone who is not WASP. Send your poem to the temple that is most associated with the cemetery, whichever stanza you end it on.

    Again, more thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. This poem is perfect. I have read it three times.

    “I understood the allure of the solidity
    of granite, quartz and crystal
    in the quagmire of grief.”

    “I imagined those carefully selected small stones,
    tumbling in small percussive bursts”

    “Each stone a whisper and a wish
    Rest in peace.”

    These verses pop out at me each time. Beautiful imagery. I hope those special stones are replaced and more are added to send love and apologies.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. It is a very powerful poem. Have you thought of doing a short series? I can visualize a triptych with pictures. I agree you should send it to the media and temples.
    http://windows2mylife.blogspot.com

    Liked by 2 people

  9. caroline524 says:

    I loved the imagery of the stones rolling in accusation. This poem was honest and beautiful. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Anonymous says:

    Keep the third verse it transforms the poem from a picture to a human heart

    Liked by 3 people

  11. lindabaie says:

    The final verse adds more than words, but action too, Molly. What you decide will be just right. They’re your words. This “orchestrated hate” is something hard to imagine & saddens me that there are those who trouble themselves with it instead of doing something kind. I like this line too: “Each stone a whisper and a wish”. Lovely that you wrote!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. What sad times we live in, but even in the darkest times there are people who still believe in love and unity and sharing goodness. Beautiful words.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. haitiruth says:

    Another vote for the third verse to stay. I love your response, and it brings us full circle back to the first stanza.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Thank you for this deeply moving and beautiful poem Molly. I think the third stance is very strong and belongs in your poem. I especially liked these two lines, “Messages of love unmoored,” and your closing, “Each stone a whisper and a wish.” I hope your poem can find an even larger audience!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. katswhiskers says:

    What a powerful, beautiful, gentle-yet-strong poem, Molly. Your word choice is perfection, and your sincerity imbues these words with warmth and reassurance. My hope is that this poem spreads far and wide, so that many are reassured and comforted by your beautiful words.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Wow! Beautiful. I like the connection to the past in the first verse, present (almost) in the second verse, and the future in the last verse. I think you should keep the third verse- it brings hope and peace. I agree with others that you should have this published. It will touch everyone that reads it.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Tara Smith says:

    I’m with Dan – this poem needs to be read by many.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Thank you for a beautiful poem that frames out thoughts and feelings as we hear about so many hateful words and acts.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. maryleehahn says:

    Yes, powerful. Yes, send it in. Yes, stanza two is perfect, especially the “mute accusation” and “Messages of love unmoored.”

    Hate destroys, but love repairs. Your poem is a gift of love.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. I think your poem is beautifully complete as-is, Molly. I wouldn’t change a thing. These three lines, especially, touched me deeply:

    I want to hold them tightly cupped in my hand
    until they warm and I can feel my pulse
    beating in their core

    Liked by 2 people

  21. The news of this vandalism is heartbreaking. Your poem is a powerful response to the hate behind the attacks. Keep it exactly as it is. Each line, like “each stone,” is “a whisper and a wish/Rest in peace.”

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Molly, after all the Billy Collins (which is no way slight or irrelevant), I come to this to be reminded that sometimes poetry is the only response to the gravity of conflict. All the parts here fit together, and of course remind me also of setting down the heavy stones on the Day of Atonement. Very moving.

    I also really enjoyed your observation elsewhere that in “Forgetfulness,” Billy notes that the name of the author is the first thing to go. I’m pondering what makes his work so (not accessible but) “hospitable,” and I think it is that self-effacement. Thanks for being part of PF today.

    Liked by 2 people

    • mbhmaine says:

      Heidi, thanks so much for leaving such a thoughtful comment in the midst of your hosting busyness. One of the things I love most about poetry is that it can meet our needs on so many emotional levels–from silly and light to sad and somber and all the levels in between.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Powerful poem, each part of it. I think it shows the journey of pain: first read in the paper, remembered points of reference then to the personal feelings.

    Liked by 1 person

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