Hard as a Rock

I did not know who to be
until I took the weight
of a place on my shoulders.

I wasn’t a camel,
but I bowed down
to take mountains upon mountains,
eagles, eggs, and nests,
streams, cutthroat trout,
sagebrush and sage grouse,
jack rabbits, rattle snakes,
and shy kangaroo rats.

It wasn’t straw,
it was the last crusty snail
who died at the last dry spring
that finally broke my back.

Like the abandoned remains
of an old pioneer hearth,
I cracked in half
and tumbled with the dust
all the way to rock bottom.

It hurt down there,
on that hard bed,
but after breaking my bones,
the stones healed me
and I learned that
even their rough embrace
is always softer
than asphalt or concrete.

So, I’ll be a rock
not because they don’t feel pain,
(they do) but because
rocks stay hard
even after they crack
under pressure.


Photo of Peehee mu’huh/Thacker Pass by Max Wilbert