A Go at the Lifting Stone – Ralph Culver

“For many years a nearly round granite stone
about two feet in diameter sat at the easterly
corner of the front steps of the store now
owned by Frank E. Brown. Few men in the town
could lift it off the ground.”

The hands, arms, shoulders and back
consult briefly. A new challenge
of some dimension, of serious intent.
Promise heaves in the brain. This
is our provincial glory!
The bet down–budge it, and you won’t
have to buy your own beer for a week–
you think in a sense your future
lies bearing its secret under the stone,
the days breaking in your favor
or not an equation of space–
its possibilities–
conjuncting with the flesh
and its limitations;
all borne up forever on the skin
of the earth, a place that seems
suddenly new and somehow
getting younger by the minute
until you have the confirmation
you seek. By God,
you are about to learn something
(this being your sole duty);

and you learn something sure enough.
Next day, when the usual warriors
clap you on the armored brace,
your lips roll back like a dog’s —
the bloody thing having not given
an inch. The sudden multitude
of flea-like urgencies in your ankle
you would rather die than bend
to attend to. Closing your eyes to this
and the uncompromising grins
stretched across the faces of
these yahoos buying you
beer after beer after beer.

First published in Seven Days

Posted in Blog.

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