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 birds not so much the ducks and geese okay not horses cows pigs
she'd lived in the city all her life some cats and dogs okay as
 of someone else's narrative the posted photographs are
someone's pets the figurines less figurative than graceful to
behold the same
with carved giraffes and camels no reptiles no amphibians nothing from
the sea although she loved the sea her passion was for stones
I don't know why the parquet floor never buckled and caved
collapsed into the rooms below her rooms all the horizontal surfaces are
with stones the bureau the cupboards the closets are full of the
precious stones she wore at her throat her ears her fingers her wrists
the inlaid
tables hold ceramic bowls of polished stones the antique desk a basket
of stones a bushel of stones on the floor on the window sills more
each one unique each one a narrative the etagere holds up to the light
stones hewn from the source and hauled up here still jagged refracting
light in every
shade of amethyst her birthstone like my mother's crystals
shimmering as if they were alive rescued from the field the cliff the
shore the river bed I round
a single cufflink by her bed a tiny diamond set in silver did her father
at his flour mill sift out the dangerous stones I stretched out beside
in her bad rime thinking to help her sleep I held her hand her fingers
wore a few of her favorite rings we lay entirely still atop the quilt a
sarcophagus she didn't sleep her mind was an etched plate from
which she drew off print after print the framed prints on the walls were
interiors our talk had always been a stone kicked down a hill no purpose
no destination her father her mother my mother my dogs
she never said she was leaving me in charge she wasn't my mother
why put me in charge I put the jewels on other throats and wrists I
threw away
the bushels of cosmetics and perfume her chosen armaments against the
world who loved the world I sold the breakfront
cabinet its cut glass bowls the blown glass figurines but who will save
the living stones she loved I have so many already
in my yard half-in half-out of the earth immovable she'd seen my
yard she'd seen those heavy stones 

ELLEN BRYANT VOIGT is the author of eight volumes of poetry, including Messenger: New and Selected Poems 1976-2006 (W. W. Norton & Company, 2007) and Shadow of Heaven (W. W. Norton & Company, 2002).

photograph by Nancy Crampton
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Title Annotation:ten poems
Author:Voigt, Ellen Bryant
Publication:The American Poetry Review
Article Type:Poem
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2011
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