The Stone Carver Laments
I am not now nor ever was a carver of wish fulfillment. I am a manufacturer of beauty and it is not my responsibility to make sure the beauty is kind. I grew up in the forest, by a small pool of gathered stream water pressed against a tall cliff of bright and varied coloured stone. Over time a cave weaved itself into the cliff. It was a dark opening within a wall of many colours and it lured me inside. I grew up in that cave. Yes, I went back to a house each night, but I became a man in that cave amidst the walls of stones of many colours. I studied how the stones were designed, how the colours joined into a mist of oblivion. I learned how the fibres were woven and when my childhood was over and it was time to be married I insisted on designing my wife's dress. She was a loquacious girl filled with a spirit she shared generously with me and she was grateful for my help with such an arduous task as designing a wedding dress. I wove the fabric from powdered stone and new silk and placed unbroken stones deep beneath the collar. I placed them there, the stones that had brought me to this place, to help me know how to cherish the event. It was after the dress had been slipped over my love's assembled body that the stones decided it was time to again make become the centre of my attention. All the assembled stones grew and stood up from her collar until my wife's face was contained within a wall of pink and lavender stones. I held her for our kiss and as our lips met she remained before me although she had vanished. As the stones feathered her soft skin away I knew she was part of a contained beauty I had designed and she could no longer see beyond the beauty's edge. This is also, I hope you understand, when I learned stones are traitorous things, born from the earth to laugh at our short transit, though I still go to the cave to visit my wife grown mute and deaf within the wide, fluorescent ribbons of forever.
John Riley has published poetry and fiction in Smokelong Quarterly, Connotation Press, Fiction Daily, The Molotov Cocktail, Dead Mule, St. Anne's Review, Better Than Starbucks, and numerous other anthologies and journals both online and in print. He has also written over thirty books of nonfiction for young readers and continues his work in educational publishing
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