I look at what has been laid. The stones P and Dad took from the ones I splayed like limestone crop circles on our lawn. The reuse of the terribly-placed barbecue that is now the foundation. The gentle arc cut out of clay.
I pick up my first piece, almost too heavy for me to lift with these writer’s hands – the ones soft enough to cradle pink nests of spun glass. It looks like the Commonwealth of Virginia if we straightened out all the edges, Rothko’s version of the state. I place its long edge against the bermuda grass curve, set it in solid. Next, Nevada – almost a true replica this time – placed pointy end toward the farmhouse.
I wonder why it is I see the shapes of states in these pieces. The rudimentary experience I have with the rock a call back to the elementary lessons when multiplication seemed a question of grade not calculator? The idea that I so rarely work with geometrical shapes – no molecular patterns, no bridge trusses in my life? The states in their two dimensions eliciting what I need – the right size and angle for this one place.
I nearly forget about the thickness. The connotation of decades that can alter, well, everything.
The first course, I finish it before faith in myself wavers too much, and I go back inside to run the vacuum, to answer email, to apply the cross stitch of thread to canvas.
Today, I will take these slowly callousing hands to the keys and draw out the spidery lineages of my history as the curls and spins of languages, and then, I will don work boots and heft rocks – all angle and chip. Mastery, my dream for both.