Mudlark No. 56 (2015)

At the end she’d ship stones to her kids—

pull them like teeth from the walls she’d built in her three-tiered back yard, wrap them in newsprint, box them, send them first class from Maine—two to the Northwest, one to the South, one to France.

Each came with a note: “Take a look at this one—see those white stripes? Chalk. Near the Marne—a flint mine we went to.” “Your dad and I threw this one into the trunk at Big Sur.” “This one’s a mix—mudstone/shale/sandstone. Sharks’ teeth are found once in a while in rocks like these.”

“Mom, don’t do this—if these stones mean that much to you, we’ll come get them some day.”

“Oh, you guys live too far. And it’s fun to do it one by one, think of who might like this rock, who that one’s right for—and if you just came to load up some dumb truck, how could you keep track of what they are?”

“But Mom, the cost!”

In the first year, the stones large, Mail to Be Picked Up, a trip downtown, the pissed-off postman lugs out the box, Sign here. This is hell on my back. Talk to her, will you?

Next year the stones less large, the notes more terse, “May ’02, Thieves’ Beach,” more droll: “Your guess good as mine: Lost Track Trail?”

More months passed.

Their texts:

“How small the stones u get these days? Mine not big as my thumb.”

“Ha! A year from now, what—sand?”

For her, though, that year did not pass, and when they came to her house the last time, when each split off from the group, went down into the backyard, its tiers slumped, plants gone to seed, each stood and thought of her hands, then looked at their own hands, and thought of the mound of stones in their own backyards.

Gerald Fleming | As If Our Love Could
Contents | Mudlark No. 56 (2015)