The wisdom of a stone
carved into the fine Dakota granite,
made to endure a thousand years or more
amidst the torrid heat and acid rain,
but an anonymous chalk behemoth,
half a forehead, an eye, and half an eye,
an empty hole where once there was a mouth,
his whole face un-faced by mindless vandals
on the cliff where herring gulls nest and cry,
set high above the flat old Kentish beach.
The man, for man indeed he was, old eyes
sunk deep beneath heavy lids stared blankly
placid in freezing snow and burning sun,
silent, secluded, harmless and withdrawn,
a man of all seasons, attached to none.
His nose was flattened like a boxer’s nose,
his cheeks cracked like an old neglected floor,
his bulging forehead hung in weighty folds,no words of greeting from his toothless mouth,
no contact made from dim unfocussed eyes.
Lurking half hidden on his lofty perch,
eyes always on the path below, he was
a watcher not aggressive, but timid,
afraid to meet our cold dismissive stares
while, sneering at his disabilities,
we might rail against him, as against
the nameless intruder in our backyards.
Origins unknown, this sculpted John Doe,
became a reminder that Love would have
us welcome a stranger to our table
In the Spring the calcite head disappeared,
wiped away by rain and tide and storm,
but my heart still heard his heart's sad voice:
"Remember my friends this my poor sad face
which disturbed the beautiful passers by;
think on the anguish of the thief disowned
by the good who neither forgive nor trust;
consider the chasm which lies between
wealth and destitution, cardboard boxes
in the cold beach caves - mansions on the hill.
"In the name of God embrace the cripple,
for the love of God visit the prisoner,
at the command of God feed the hungry
and invite the stranger into your home."
I saw again the white tears running down
his battered face, but his urgent bidding
left me awed that a stone could be so wise.
Alone on that still path beside the beach,
I was left to mourn his quiet departingand ask God’s blessing on his lithic soul.