Alice Derry

Listening to Stone
January 12, 2015 Derry Alice

Listening to Stone

Cycladic Woman, Athens
2300 B. C.


The man who carved you vied and gossiped

with his fellow artists, then too fell silent,

listening to stone. No language survives,

and, like him, I’m left hearing the shape of you.


If you’d been made to lie down

with the dead in their graves, your arms

crossed under your breasts would make sense,

a stilled body drawn into itself.


Upright, you belong to us.

Your belly swells taut, what will be

the ultimate reach into two. Hmpf,

says a woman and settles her folded arms


solidly on the comfortable shelf

her growing baby makes.

Resting them before they’ll be needed.

It’s good to keep the self intact.


The long eons of our becoming,

orangutans shifting as easily

as air moves leaves in the highest branches—

arms want to bridge.


When they rest, I lie down and sleep, waking

as inexplicable to myself as you are,

the day calling for shape, for remembrance.

You carry the dream of your child these four millennia.


Standing at the glass case, my arms wrapped

in each other, I face you.  Your bright paint

is washed away—what your eyes could tell me,

how your tears might well up to meet mine.


The stone of you reflects the shine

in pregnant women, a confident tilt to your chin.

When your child comes, neither of you is protected.

You’ll stretch down your arms to lift her.

Tremolo is Alice Derry’s fourth full collection of poetry.  It was released by Red Hen Press on September 1, 2012.