The stone she carried on her shoulders
dug into flesh and bones. Her arms
grew numb; lichen on the granite
scraped her skin that scabbed into another
kind of lichen, one that fed invisibly
on salt and minerals of grief. Eventually
she couldn't walk, but sat beneath the trees,
head bowed, stone balanced on her shoulders.
Those who watched, who brought her food and water,
wanted her to set it down. They told her
it could be the keystone for a hearth
or the first of hundreds like it in a fence
to keep the goats out of her garden.
They told her it could be a gravestone
where she could carve the names.
She sat as if she couldn't hear, as if the woman
she had been was now a different thing—
an animal with one sharp sense, one knowing:
she couldn't lower the stone until her body
could do nothing more but lie upon it,
her heart at last light enough
for it to bear.
Lorna Crozier is both a beginning and an end.