ONE Magazine

The official publication of
Catholic Near East Welfare Association

Celebrating 50 years | God • World • Human Family • Church

A Revolution of Stones

A poem about growing up and learning about oneself.

Remember how we played with stones,
made cock-shots out of tins,
propped them on rocks, took turns,
made accuracy an art, with practiced aim
displayed our skills, rejoicing when we hit
and sent a tin-can rattling from its throne;
or how we endlessly pursued
the art of skimming stones, believing
every time that if we found the
appropriate shape and held it right
and sent it winging on a level course
that it would multiply its flying feet?

Looking back, I marvel how persistently
we played this game; your seven-year lead
gave you the edge, which egged me on –
improve, select with more intent,
bend closer to the strand, relax,
the art of skimming stones does not
depend on strength alone, practice helps,
but there is something else, an ease
a nonchalance, a measuring of the self
with stone, and sea and strand. He
was of course our model, his discus-
thrower stance, the curving arm
and cradling hand, the deft release,
and then the measured motion of the feet.

There was another game: a stone
of any shape sent high, then
as it faltered, turned and spun, we tried
to intercept its quickening plunge. This
had more strength than skill. But now I wonder
at our fine indifference to success
and see the pattern of our future ways,
at least of mine, where all the joy
is found within the work being done
and not in praise or honor that results.

Who would have thought such boyish games
made certain I could not be tamed?

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