Rocky Road To Hoe

The woman the stones spoke to ignored them,
knowing better. Fearing the thorazines.
Only after the rose quartz chunk said to her,
"Your little girl has fallen into the pool,"
and it was so,
did she accept the burdensome embedded knowledge.
Pointedly, gratingly,
she kept it to herself.
The stones had a dignity to their converse
appropriate to their formation,
the many-layered levels of meaning brought upward,
one at a time,
breaking through detritus,
not to be easily set aside.

She had the gravel in the driveway taken up,
and paved it over, grateful for concrete silence;
she removed the lovely slate from the side terrace
and laid down redwood over her husband's objections;
when driving through New Mexico and Arizona,
she stayed inside the car. At all times.
The day her daughters bought her a necklace of agates,
she carried it out to the garden and hung it high in a tree;
when that was not enough to hush its tinted voices,
she had her husband shut it away at the bank
in their safe deposit box. Saying,
"I can't leave something so precious lying about."

But stones are everywhere.
Everyone else, being stone deaf, collects them.
Speaking to her from fingers of friends and strangers alike,
they told her how it felt.
To be mined.

When the woman the stones spoke to died,
she left an enigma.
"Do not," she said in her will, "under any circumstances whatsoever,
bury me beneath
a stone."

--Suzette Haden Elgin


This poem shared the Science-Fiction Writers of America's Rhysling Award for Best Short Poem in 1988.


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