Friday, May 09, 2008

A Poem by Annie Dillard

At West Beach, Lummi Island
by Annie Dillard

My boots crunch down the slope, clamber over
the bleached bones of trees. I conquer a tide of pebbles;
at wave edge I stoop and finger one, another,

fondling their flecks and facets, their skin soft as peaches.
Their colors burn my retina. Uninvited words leap into my throat.
I am astonished; from what pleat of brain tissue did they spring?

Schist, agate, gneiss, shale, scree, granite, quartz- they use
my lips to utter their abrasive syllables. God is in these
crystalline names, in the mineral click, the stony rattle

of gravel under the scrolling breakers. God speaks the language
of stones. I am a polished stone myself, and he is speaking
my name. With every ripple, every spit of rain that wets a pebble

into its real color, he tells me, I am washing you with salt,
I am grinding you smooth to my touch. With rain I caress
your oval shape, your apricot silk, and show you your true self.

I love this poem for many reasons...
First, for my father who was a true rock hound. I have so many memories of him picking up a rock, licking it to show the true color and then telling me the name of the rock and the family that it belonged to (igneous, etc.). We would go on rock hounding trips to search for specific rocks- agates, petrified wood. No vacation was complete without digging for rock, looking for places to find rocks, or a trip to a rock shop or show.
Second, for the affirmation that we all go through the grinding process. The slow, painful and life-long process of being made into the image of God through difficulties and disappointments.
Third, for the beauty of the words and the hope that I too will one day be as beautiful as a gleaming tumbled and polished rock...


Rivers of Sinope said...

Hi, Becca. I just wanted to let you know that this is not an Annie Dillard poem. It's by Luci Shaw (whom Dillard calls "one of our best writers") in her book The Sighting.

Rivers of Sinope said...

I'm sorry--I got the author right and the book wrong. It's from Shaw's book, The Angels of Light, p. 32.

becca said...

hmmmm.... Don't know what to say.

I found the poem in the book Indelible Ink edited by Scott Larsen, in which the poem is stated to have been written by Annie Dillard. I'm sorry if I have made a mistake. I had never seen the poem before, and absolutely fell in love with it.

I'll keep looking to double-check your info.