Sunday, October 20, 2013

Are You Cleaning Off the Stone?

I'd like to begin by saying that I saw you coming, 
but that would be a lie. 
I'd like to say that I can hear your voice, 
but I couldn't mean 'hear' in the accepted sense of the word. 

Are you cleaning off the stone? 
That's a sweet thing to do. 
Are you cleaning off the stone? 
That's sweet of you.

-- The Mountain Goats, “Are You Cleaning Off the Stone?”

I’d like to say that I saw you coming, but that would be a lie.
I never exactly see you coming, though there are other words
That might apply, the senses’ usual fragile suspects: feel, taste,
Touch, turn. Others, too: toward, fall, fallen, listen, succumb.
I’m thinking of all these pictures I’ve taken, all this useless
Linger and smudge: light and shadow, pallor and square.
Are you cleaning off the stone? That’s a sweet thing to do,
Except there’s this: all that’s collected there, leaf and twig,
Dried shell, wasp wing, clam chalk, lint and litter – these
Are the tools that through the years have carved my name.
Call it, call me, what you like: I’ll call it with the same
Voice I call my children, the same pleading:
Where are you? How long until you return?
What do these mean to you: see, stone, linger, given?