I got a package in the mail today from Amazon. It contained a book of poems by Tom Hennen called Darkness Sticks to Everything and a six-pack of vacuum cleaner bags.
I thought there might be a poem hiding somewhere in the juxtaposition of those two things—a mundane product designed to gather dust and a lifetime of reveries focused on the significance (or not) of dust, gravel, the prairie, everything flying around with nowhere to go, or going nowhere. The mote in God’s eye. Dust Bowls and dust bunnies.
But I couldn’t come up with one.
Or maybe I was wishing it would be longer.
In any case, opening Hennen’s book, I came upon this little gem.
Smelling a Stone in the Middle of Winter
I can’t remember
What gravel and weeds are for.
This stone becomes important
And starts to act big.
I expect it to orbit the kitchen stove
Any minute now.
Near my nose
Bigger and bigger
Until it’s a mountain I’m lost on.
This stone is different
From the stone that grinds me down
This stone smells as though
It’s been wrapped in flowers
As your dress does
On a spring afternoon.
It’s the hard feeling in my stomach
When I’m talking nonsense to you.
This stone is so inviting
Everyone wants to walk right into it
And become a fossil.
Hennen just might be our native Zen poet living under a bridge, or better yet, in a culvert. Praise be to Copper Canyon Press for bringing these treasures up out of the basement of our culture.