Tuesday Poem: The River of Stones

At the beginning of the week I joined 'A River of Stones', which is a project that lasts until the end of January, and is a way of using the Buddhist concept of 'Mindfulness' in our creative lives.  it was one of my students at Lancaster last year who introduced me to the idea of 'Mindfulness', which was the subject of her Ph.D.  She pointed out that our lives are too fast and heedless and there's not enough time to sit quietly and observe, or just simply 'be'.  Ted Hughes was a great advocate of sitting and looking too.  He would sometimes spend over an hour observing something with furious concentration, before writing about it.

I'm never going to become a Buddhist (or Ted Hughes!) and simply don't have the self-discipline to become a disciple of  mindfulness.  but 'A River of Stones' simply asks you to commit to spending a few minutes a day sitting (or standing) quietly, observing and thinking, to focus on one thing and then write about it in as few words as possible.  Then you can Tweet your 'small stone' if you're a Twitterer, or put it on your blog, or Facebook, or post it on the main River of Stones blog.

What you produce every day does vary in quality - sometimes you can't come up with anything - and it's difficult (impossible so far) to get beyond description in such a small space. Everything I write seems to have a romantic, rather sugary taint to it, which I'm trying to eradicate.  But in the middle of my stressful life, I'm finding the exercise very therapeutic.  Next week's aim is to try to get closer to the bare bones of things.

Here are this week's small stones.

1.  Cloud curved over the sea like a shell hinged at the horizon, where a golden pearl is radiating light.

2.  Deserted House:
Cracked walls and fallen tiles
the hanging gutters
but one mysterious light
behind blank shutters.

3.  The swaying blind cord ticks away the moments to the beat of the wind.

4.  A quiet room.  Only a thought disturbs.  A pulse of blood, a breath, the sunlight crawling across the wall.  The pen on the page.

5.  Haiku:
Olive leaves reflect
the sun like slim, silver fish
swimming in bright shoals.

6.  The bells, nodding from rival belfries across the piazza, do not agree with each other.  The clanging bronze vibrato tolls discord.

*The photograph is of a particularly beautiful, ancient wall on the road to Capezzano Monte where I live.


  1. Great post Kathleen, and lovely small stones. Good to have you in the River with us. Good luck in getting closer to 'bare bones'!

  2. Kathleen, I love your small stones. They are beautifully written. I, too am having a hard time getting down to the bare bones, but I also have trouble leaving the "I" out of my stones. I am glad that I have found your site and feel that I can learn a lot from you.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts