Friday, May 27, 2011

Collecting Things

Collecting Things
Darrel Hammon

Some people collect old china,
petite and pretty and polite;
or plates from every state in the country,
round ones, flat ones, bronze ones, beveled-edged ones

usually discovered in scattered fleas markets,
just off I-10 in Quartzsite, Arizona;
or political pins from ‘60, ’64, and ’76,
Kennedy, Johnson, and Ford.

I, on the other hand, collect rocks,
smooth ones, flat ones, odd-shaped ones,
from railroad lines in Utah, high mountains
in Idaho, the plains of Montana, or the high prairies in Wyoming—

some stuck out like farmers in the New York City subway;
others lay half hidden in sand and weeds.
The three-date rock appeared after Church,
scavenged clandestinely from a river bed, high in the Beartooths,

by Boy Scouts in search of dates with my daughter.
Another came from a rodeo coach,
a completely round one, rounded by years
of water splashing in and around it,

like a princess on a platter. One came
from my Dad’s place after he died,
a round black volcanic one with a bowl
in the middle where, he said, Indians ground corn for supper.

 Now, whether any of it was true seemed
superfluous to me until I held the rock in my hands,
caressed it like mothers and their newborn babes.
The story was too good to let truth surface.

 I keep them all out front where I can see them.
Often I shuffle from rock to rock, remembering
how they came to be, wincing at the words:
“We’re not taking those on our next move.”

I already know the poundage and hidden spaces
between the brown sofa and book boxes
where rocks can hide their true identities
and stories yet to be told.

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