On Being Asked for a Poem that Embodies | Literary Arts | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

On Being Asked for a Poem that Embodies

Non-Anthropocentric Spirituality

As a kid, I had a rock collection and didn't learn anything
from it. Not the scientific names. Not the way they formed
so long before us. Or the way they'll continue
eons after. I should, you say, have held them to my ear
hour after hour, and listened to their silence, to the pure
inhuman shape of them. But I'd have heard, instead,
the low, dark rumble of my blood. I kept them
in a box that I marked "stones," a box I got
from my father: thick pasteboard, with lots of gold gilt
edging the corners. You still could smell the cigars,
coronas they must have been, with a picture of peacocks
and a dark-haired woman on a gold divan. He traveled a lot
and I missed him dearly, and when he came back
he'd bring me a purple agate or, once, a plastic rocket
powered by a water pump. It never reached the stars,
the haze of coronas, the darkened dwarfs, the imponderable
empty spaces between them. It got about as high
as our maple tree. There's no getting round it. Whenever
I try to think of stones, all of the rest comes, too.

— Richard St. John

Richard St. John's book of poems The Pure Inconstancy of Grace was published in 2005 by Truman State University Press, as first runner-up for the 2004 T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry. His long poem, Shrine, was released as a chapbook from Finishing Line Press in 2011. He lives in the neighborhood of Greenfield. Many writers featured in Chapter & Verse are guests of Prosody, produced by Jan Beatty and Ellen Wadey. Prosody airs every Saturday morning on 90.5 FM.

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