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It’s only in October that a rock collector will uncover
a problem in her masonry work—a birthmark

or hardhearted mar, some telltale cicatrix that consumes
her attention. She needn’t chisel very far

in the house she built
to find at least one lapillus buried

in the sheetrock. Always that jagged piece
of rubble needing to be unearthed,

a tumbling rough she insists must be sanded
and ground over and over and over

until she is able to finally feel
Smooth enough to swallow.

A common stone herself,
she often inspects the same wall,

one widely distributed across many rooms.
Take, for example, the shared wall

of the living and dying
rooms where one wouldn’t expect

to be able to excavate
a heartful of malachite.

I can think of no greener stone,
she might say. It reminds me of the greenest grass,

wouldn’t you agree? For her sake, let us say yes.
From her mouth, the rock collector might manufacture

a hand or a heart, a north or a south, beliefs
that seem to bear true for a decade.

We are not fooled. We see she is stone—
masked, holes for a mouth and a heart—a green

that shines for a few years, maybe even ten.
But her heart is still just a hole.

Only the most excellent quarries, she’ll say.
Isn’t a stone worth living for?

Tell her it would be a mistake. Tell her
in ten years, she’ll be like all of her walls—pocked

with holes. She’ll demand proof.
It’s only then that you should take her

to the garden on the other side of town,
where the two baby stones sleep

side by side, both with their polished marble
hearts, their malachite mouths,

both swaddled in the greenest grass.