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"Meditation Stone," the History


          The oldest object in my house is a sizable chunk of quartzite, (“eight pounds of Yadkin County,” as I say in the poem). How old? According to geologists, it may be 1.5 billion years old, or 547.5 billion days. No matter how I say it, I don’t comprehend it. And geologists find it hard to be precise about these metamorphic rocks: When does sand become sandstone? When does sandstone become quartzite? And where did the sand come from?


          Of course, the rock is far older than we are—we homo sapiens. My ancestors arrived in Yadkin County a little over two hundred and fifty years ago, the earliest, the Yorks, settling near the mouth of Fall Creek where it drains into the Yadkin River, the Reeces, on Deep Creek. We think of their folkways and claims to ownership as being “old.” But the rock is about two million times older than the Europeans’ ascendency in what would become the United States.


          This piece of quartzite should teach us some humility. 


          It may be better to call it a symbol of resilience, rather than permanence, for even rocks change over time. I’ll take what I can get, staring at this rock and accepting its lessons.


          I found the stone about thirty years ago, and attempted to write this poem many times. Is it finished? It’s the best I can do for now. In its present form, in 2018 it won honorable mention in the Randall Jarrell Poetry Contest, and it was published in Storysouth.

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