My stone self and the forgotten calves I sit still as stone counting how many times my breath stops. Stand on the edge of a cliff, miles below the sky and miles above the river, see the hinterlands where forgotten calves born to slaughter live lives unlived, still as stones —cornered into a lifetime of breath that is no breath. My pulse quickens as I eye a herd of clouds, their buffalo forms hurtling toward my sorry throne of cliff. The homeless wind brushes my hair. I wonder if my heart and face are canvas for sorrow, my mind and body paint. The clouds begin hurling their rain and wind. I shut my two telescoping shutters, feel fear rise through the forgotten calves’ hooves then course their viscera, making their hides roil and ripple, shudder from snout to curl of tired tale. Their matchstick legs shift, and shift and shift again, and I am a helpless stone self, a canyon, far from sky and far from swallowed river. I feel the brine of my tears brim, form a stream roiling, though more sad and slow than that, feeble down my cheeks, my feet not shifting my heart not stopping, my soul aching as the herd of now black and blue buffalo clouds rumble their arrival above their tortured kin. And my stone self strips her stone skin and I jump or is it fly or is it fall.
Lindsay Rockwell won first prize in the October Project Poetry Contest in April 2020 and has been published in Iron Horse Literary Review, Perceptions Magazine, TheCenter for New American’s Poetry Anthology and The Courtship of Winds. She is currently the poet-in-residence for the Episcopal Church of Connecticut as well as host for their Poetry and Social Justice Dialogue series. As a medical oncologist she has been published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology and coauthored In Defiance of Death: Exposing The Real Costs of End-of-Life Care (Praeger, 2008).