Flesh on Stone
And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them.
I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh.
óEzekiel 11:19

To rival the green pear sheathed in soft light
sitting on the counter involves being
as composed as Sakyamuni.

God has become like talking to a door: I am still learning
how to retreat. I want nothing to do with it
and hope to never pass through.

I sand down this roomís imperfections. I spackle its recesses.
With pastel paint, one coat vanishes as
it supports another, regardless of tint:

praline, sage, oat cake. Such work is in my hands and moves my tongue.
Say a vision is given a mind. Say a vision is a given mind.
There is a perfect stillness to a room sometimes

and other times a perfect absence I am trying not to love. I have retreated
into work. I have retreated into work instead of love,
which my father tried to teach me is only work.

Apparently, I am was. When asked what he was after
while painting Sunlight in an Empty Room, Hopper replied,
ďIím after me.Ē Now, I take these walks which end

in rooms and still more rooms, everywhere I am not. But there it is: if I were
retreating it was in part because Iíd been taught better
to stay guarded than to risk loss. It was as if by turning

from painting to masonry and other work for their lack of speech, by turning to
the quiet space a stone keeps between itself and the ground,
I could pretend I had caused less pain.

The truth is it can be. To know when love is in the air is to admit love in fact
demanded air. Love may have even been the air from which
certain mouths gasped.

You know these stars could suffocate us but they donít. We might think they stay
away out of empathy but to them a mouth stuffed with light
is the same as a mouth trying to pronounce darkness.

I have tried to hide in my work, digging up stones. They leave little graves.
Their shallow shadows wear mouths that never speak but scream.
I have tried to change through my work, not being stone.

I have tried to shrug off the stoneís sorrow from time to time but it can wreck you.
Trying to hide: to never again ignore how much space light covers
despite the summer airís weight is to have felt absence.

Now I watch the flame dwindle in the fire pit I made, fend off sleep while
hoping to rise anew and without facing any other task
of such magnitude. Now I am not in love with anything

except the world, flesh on stone. Maybe the dead are just like us, only more kind
because they already know not to try so hard. Prying
slab after slab from the ground my hands palm

the stonesí cool undersides. I feel their weight in my hands. I carry their hum.

Kevin Stoy's poems have appeared in 42opus, Triplopia, Eucalyptus, Stirring, and the SNReview. He holds a BA from the University of Michigan and an MFA from George Mason University, where he is also currently employed by the Center for Global Education.(

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761