On a Gift of Stones from Isla Negra

Stephen Kuusisto, Letters to Borges

In the dark times it’s the simple gifts, the simplest ones that are the most sustaining. My friend Lorraine visited her son in Chile and has now given me three gift wrapped stones from Isla Negra, the island home of poet Pablo Neruda. They’re on my desk. One appears to have fallen from the sky with its pitted skin telling a tale of vast distances—space it has survived.

They’re cool to the touch. One fits my left eye’ socket, the “more blind” eye which is always in pain. Unbidden relief from the stars.

I read the news. The coagulated war merchants circus burns children across the globe. The masters of war ride about in armor plated limousines. They drive straight over the ashes of boys and girls.

The stones of Isla Negra are not a sentimental matter. Yes, they’re soothing. Also however they possess that mineral blank out of which all consciousness must be midwived and I for one feel androgynous in their presence. Which means strong. And even more ancient in mind than I’d imagined I was, and I already thought I was very old.

Once I met a shaman in Lapland. He smelled like smoke, though he did not smoke.

A tiny stone will smell like eternity because it is the thing itself.

You can be who you wish.

As Pentti Saarikoski once wrote: “I want to be the kind of poet whose poems build houses for people…”

Back to socialism, eh, Cosmos?

Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

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