Why Stone Collecting Will Never Save Your Life

"Men have collected stones since the beginning of time and have apparently assumed
that certain ones were the containers of the life-force with all its mystery."
- Carl Jung

Your book – Rock Collecting For Dummies –
is full of slick advice. This gem, for example:
As in other areas of life, unusual things take place
at the edges,
or this one -- Be a happy novice! Dig Deep!
Your shovel can help you access beauties lying
just beneath the surface.
But you are not a dummy,
looking to access beauty. You are a dummy whose
edges have grown so thin the sun shines through.

You are a dummy just trying to stick around. So you find
yourself tender footing with shorebirds at the tidal margins
of wet, reflected light – turning your pockets into ballasts
to avoid floating away. Each stone a smooth weight pressing
you into your footprints -- tracks on the map of your life, now
that she is gone, that say: “Dummy, You Are Here.”
Never settle for a damaged specimen... But before
you get to that part, you have to learn the names in order

on the hardness scale: Talc, Gypsum, Calcite, Flourite,
Apaxite, Feldspar, Quartz, Topaz, Corundum, Diamond.
A handy mnemonic suggested by your book: “The girl
could flirt and flirt quickly though Connie didn’t.”
it turns out, is relative. Quartz cuts Calcite. Calcite cuts
Talc. Diamond cuts them all. Whatever it is, your book warns,
many collectors get out of hand and focus on the hunt,
on gathering all they can.
And this, it turns out, gets at

the granite center of things: What to keep, and what to leave behind?
Your pockets, your buckets, your trunks, garages, your self storage
units can only hold so much gravel – Ah, the accumulation,
the sedimentation filling up your empty spaces until nothing
echoes, nothing vibrates, nothing hums. What to leave behind?
Unfortunately, your book says nothing of regret – that hard milk
quartz, once slick between your teeth as you tested its consistency,
now settled in your innards like a heavy pearl – or how one spews it out.

And there is nothing – not a word – about the preparation
of your face before a scheduled visit with your little girl;
how to fit yourself into a tumbler (for example) or just
how long to stay there, falling, head over heels, until
your edges are removed and nothing’s left except
some polished version of yourself, glowing from its true core –
the Dummy who never would have left.

Craig van Rooyen is a lawyer living on the Central Coast of California, but studies online with The Writers Studio under the direction of Philip Schultz. His work has been published or is forthcoming in Innisfree Poetry Journal, Christian Century, and The Fourth River.

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761