Burying the Stone

Steve Klepetar

Featured image: Stone gaze © A. Anupama

On the radio, a Handel polonaise, air thick
with its strings and flutes, the house orange-scented
and warm. My father rises from his chair
with the usual grunt and cracking knees.
“Time to bury the stone,” he says.
We meet at the closet, grab our hooded coats,
pull on our boots and climb out into the yard
over drifted snow. I’ve got the shovel,
he’s got the spade. We trudge past the big rock
bulging near the fence, the one he identifies
as “Leaverite,” (as in “leave ‘er right there”)
then around twin oaks bending away from
each other like ex-lovers on a train. He digs
and I dig. We don’t know what we’re looking for,
but we’ll know when we find it, maybe by the color
of its veins and nubs, or by static electricity sparking
our fingers, crackling our hair. And there it is,
the size of a goose egg, smooth and oval in his
gloveless hand, blue, streaked with copper and gold.
I’ve got the pickaxe now. I crack away at frozen
ground. He drops to his knees with a little gasp of pain,
scrambles in the loosened dirt six inches beneath
the frost line, buries the stone. We cover it up
with dirt, then snow, patting it down to rest unmarked
in sleeping earth. I offer my hand, help him up
and we stomp our way back to the house,
which seems to shimmer in fading light as music plays.
Slowly we warm up, rum in our cocoa burning along our throats.