Time Flowering Among Rocks

                        After “Thyme Flowering Among Rocks’’
                            by Richard Wilbur

Jonathan Ponder

A sledgehammer drops
in the center of the
rough-hewn pedestal rock

we’ve been digging out.
Five radial cracks,
unfurling petals, sprout

to the circumference
of the rock, cut and shaped
by the hands of men

in the Late Bronze Age.
This sudden blossoming
of helpless empty space,

this sudden exposure of rawness,
clean and sharp-edged,
stirs in me the sense

of a first harsh breath.
Not even the men who
set this stone in this earth

knew it as intimately
as us. They did not see
the swirling grain or glittery

flecks hidden inside,
unexposed to the effects
of light or dark or time.

This pedestal shows industry
and beauty but is no artifact,
no museum piece.

So after photographing,
recording depth, locations
position, and then graphing

it onto a diagram
of the square, we split it
into pie-shaped slabs.

We haul them separately
from the square and toss them
haphazardly on scree

piles that patch the bank
of the tell. Strewn like siblings
at a parent’s wake,

these freshly broken faces
of rock, preserved from time
so long, surrender the spaces

between themselves to
sun and starlight, rainwater,
the footsteps of al-bedoo,

the coarse-haired bodies
of lounging goats, and
wildflowers springing briefly.

All of these will do
the work of time: counting
years, wearing smooth

edges. A proud pedestal
that once held pillars is borne
and broken by the world.