Northwords Now Issue 40

The FREE literary magazine of the North

The Whirler Stone

by Leonie Charlton

The photo grabbed me, gutted me -
in those known hands a rose-orange stone
weight of cabbage, shape of planet
owl’s energy field, perfect spacer for self

marvel of river-spent love

gone with the photographer
who with stone-bent desire
moved the man to lift what had sat
on his garden fence for years
and pass it over, (I’d seen this and turned away).
Now her photo - the stone, in his hands -
on my phone, and I can’t sleep


I’d wanted the stone, not to take away
not for me to own, just to be there
almost unchanging, always on the fence.
I’d wanted to see how it settled into the wood
a little more intimately each year.
I’d wanted it to be there all for itself
for the place too, for the man and the raggedy roses  

but mostly for me, to be steadfastly there, for me.

The heft of its absence presses my kidneys
while he, giver, lets things pass through -
rivers and unwritten words     
stones found, held, handed on
not his to keep nor his to give away
a stone pausing in hands that grasp at nothing,
that open for passers through like salmon alevin, baby frogs
‘a half and a pony’, a shed-load of dreams.

His is a different hold to mine
I want it, the way it allows to time,
loosens feldspar crystals,
unravels me in possibility.