What is it about stones?
Charles Simic tries an answer with this poem:
Go inside a stone
That would be my way
Let somebody else become a dove
Or gnash with a tiger’s tooth.
I am happy to be a stone.
From the outside the stone is a riddle:
No one knows how to answer it
Yet within, it must be cool and quiet
Even though a cow steps on it full weight,
Even though a child throws it in a river;
The stone sinks, slow, unperturbed
To the river bottom
Where the fishes come to knock on it
I have seen sparks fly out
When two stones are rubbed,
So perhaps it is not dark inside after all;
Perhaps there is a moon shining
From somewhere, as though behind a hill –
Just enough light to make out
The strange writings, the star-charts
On the inner walls.
The stone I am holding in my hand is definitely a beach stone. Its shape rounded by who knows how many hundreds of years of wave action.
But it was far from the beach when I came upon it.
On Tuesday morning, in light mist, while walking around an area of land just off the Peace Path, an area of land I have never walked on before, there it lay half buried, glinting and shining like some polished jewel; like some dark moon shining.
The only way it could have gotten there was for an aboriginal man or woman to have carried it there; possibly even a child. The riddle I ask myself is: “When was the last time this stone was picked up and held?”
I close my eyes and allow myself to feel a black hand cupping this stone.
When it was put down could the holder foresee the tragedy about to fall across all of Tasmania?