You carry it in your left-hand pocket—
a flat black stone almost flawlessly round.
Often you take it out, feel its smooth sides,
an obolus of memory, older
than anything you own, a chip of Earth
that may survive your time. Your friend found it
beside Lake Michigan among scattered
pieces good for skipping, then he placed it
in your palm, saying, “The perfect stone.” You
thought of flinging it like a saucer, but
held back. Why do we keep the things we keep?
In that moment the stone stored its meaning,
the giving gesture kept by the keeping,
and it became a perfect living thing.
Joseph R. Chaney has had poems appear in The Nation, Prairie Schooner, Yankee, Crazyhorse, Black Warrior Review, and other journals. Some of his poems are accessible online at Apple Valley Review, South Florida Poetry Journal, Off the Coast, Valparaiso Poetry Review, The Cresset, and The Journal of Humanistic Mathematics. Chaney teaches literature and writing at Indiana University, South Bend, where he is director of Wolfson Press.