Gina Franco

The Stone is Worldless

…being left empty by the refusal of things.


Then dread seemed preferable to emptiness.
Like the feeling of watching the tree heave and wave
and fill with crows, their wings blackening the fog
in the branches, the tree teeming with hand-like shadows
grasping for air. Their sudden departure. In which the tree
shivers now less meaningfully. No more a certainty at hand
that stalls and stalls and never arrives but a static that is hard
to shake. Little upset bowl, little indoor storm, (when a sieve
is shaken, refuse remains) the snow globe scattered its stars
over the clearing, and the deepest transparencies grew
faint, and this was a comfort until the flurry became
a frozen surface, same and same. Whether beneath it the tree
is throwing long bars of shadow across the churchyard
in the center, whether in the center the vaults loom up
and put themselves in order. If in the seeming of the vaults
there is an in, something deeper, that’s a question no different
from lonesomeness of the worst sort, empty dwelling.
The lost home. Interred somewhere but where is
not the point of this world. Neither is trepidation. The stone
face saying: what is stone, and what is stone passing itself
off as everything else, are the same. In the end.
So endlessly, the unsettling parts. It is hard to look
away. While the snow makes a burial ground of the circle
of field. While the field ends where it meets the stream.
While the stream runs into the distance and the distance
curves back on itself, either like a refusal to give and give,
which is the expected thing, or like an indication of return,
your return, evidence that the tree is emptied for all
the reason of the shaking world.

Gina Franco’s The Keepsake Storm was published by the University of Arizona Press. Her poems have most recently appeared in Crazyhorse, Diagram, Drunken Boat, Image, and Poetry. She teaches at Knox College, and is an oblate with the monastic order of the Community of St John.