Rock

In starry cauldrons, the raging cradles of creation,
rocks beget themselves,
sprung from the foreheads of galaxies
and rocked eternally toward time
in icy arms of glaciers.
Basalt, quartz, gneiss, pyrites,
schist, shale, and feldspar...
fissile, friable,
fractured in time by apish hands
for slashing sinew, boning flesh, and scraping hide,
then chipped for tipping spears.
And this...

We found it on my father's desk the day he died,
a graywacke, freckled egg,
ovoid, smooth and fine,
fitting the hand like a gravid potato...
plucked from the stream behind his shed,
a random, unreflecting act, we guessed,
no final stab at art...was it?
the slash and bone and scrape his life had been.
At any rate, how like the spotted oval of my father's dying face
this rock seems now,
time-scoured of edge and line,
of form and function reft,
all character drawn down,
a hard, diminished thing,
watery eyes dimming in a face of flint.

I found a thousand like it in the creek
the day I came,
ripples washing them.
From time to time they cluck and chuckle in their beds
as old men will,
and then lie still,
blinking as the waters chatter on,
no gems,
but brighter than you'd think a rock could shine,
reflecting
what?
reflecting nothing,
the firmament, the sun itself,
stream-worn and river-polished
to a freckled finish.