Reeds and Gravel

The Idea

‘the thing all covered in mud and pitch… we dragged it out like a tiny boat and marveled at the quiet little boy inside his big-old eyes looking straight at us and just one fist clutching-up some of the gravel ballast that lined the bottom and his other hand holding that little smooth black stone shaped almost like a human heart, but stone nonetheless… I guess scooped-up with the gravel…. we kept it in the family because it all seemed like a message from heaven, and anyway the Egyptians wouldn’t let us keep the baby… they took him quickly away. We never could keep anything in those days…

The Poem

Almost missed the thing Mud colored, floating. 
We dragged up the basket
Marveling at the quiet little man-baby Resting inside
Big-old eyes looking straight on us, Just one fist clutching-up
Some of that gravel ballast Lining the basket bottom. 
Other hand holding one little black stone, 
Two-lobed, hard, and like a tiny heart, 
But stone, still. 
Scooped-up with the gravel. 
We kept it in the family For the strangeness of it. 
Pharaoe's girl got the baby. 
They took him quickly away. 
As all was taken in those days,
The reed basket rotted away, All the gravel got left behind
The day we ran away, 
Following some guy called Moses, We carefully carried the stone along. Keep it in the family, 
For when the loss of those days
Newly burns. 

The new stones came later. 


North Chesterfield, VA

Jay CalhounComment