by John Timothy Robinson
In Hard Scratch Hollow beside a cave,
there was a rock formation that resembled some malformed altar.
Each side sloped up
where light, green moss covered the top and bottom edges.
This large form was positioned in a gully’s end
under trees in cow pasture.
Fountainlike in shape,
sloped, eroded in that peculiar, scaly way sand-stone always is.
Lichen grew on the Eastern side,
splotched that forty-five-degree angled slab;
a palate or huge contour of a coat pocket,
malformed base of a tree cut down in some other age of life on Earth.
Though, in a certain way you look at the rock,
a shoulder becomes visible,
a neck and an upturned face
as if to the sky in plea—some ancient being
buried in ground.
Uncle Jim had his picture taken there when he was young.
With his injured leg, he couldn’t serve in the military,
so as a hobby he carved stone,
natural land forms close to the house.
On the hill behind the back porch,
there were steps that suddenly appeared just past a cedar tree.
They lead up through a larger cliff, disappear into the ground.
On the front, next to the yard,
a rock-face jutted from the pasture hill.
On the rounded side of its face he carved foot-holds
large enough for half a shoe,
somewhat rounded, though angled enough to firmly fit.
He would arrive on Saturday mornings and drive his brother to the supermarket
in a cream-colored, orangish Impala.
I always thought he looked different than the others;
shorter, slight Italian or Sicilian features.
He would give me money clips on my birthday,
pocket watches. Case brand pocket knives.
He would tell jokes and try to make me laugh.
When previous generations of farmers cleared land for timber,
crops or cattle,
they stacked rocks in cairns.
Now, almost a century later,
they resemble graves or stone monuments
partially covered in moss, lichen and weeds.
I never disturbed them,
though there were not many;
the Far Hill, up Center Point,
Homeplace Ridge or at the base of Rock Hill Orchard.
Something kept him coming back,
though only through his return
would I understand the sacrifice,
and only then receive the gift
he never let me know he gave to me.
Category: Poetry, SNHU Creative Writing