Talking to Samuel

I went to a conference recently, and on my return I had to fill in a form saying what contacts I’d 20191211_172044 (2)made, what benefits would flow from them, what impact they would have.

What I did not put on the form was this, even though it was the best “contact” that I made:

talking to Samuel/stacking stones

[in the summer heat
by the riverside
a man –
long black coat
long matted hair –
balances stones
one atop another




he sits near me
we watch
the tide rise
the water lap
with a clatter
a tower falls
the man laughs]

there goes one
                  …do you watch for them all to fall as the water rises?
                  …that must take a while…
it must…

it must take a long time

[we sit
water laps
sun glitters on the river]

                 … at home
                I have rocks
                that I collected
                that I stack like that

                one day…

                my kids were angry
                they took my stones
                and buried them

                I don’t know why

[water laps
a fish jumps
we point and smile]

I gave my father a stone
to remind him
who he was
of his aboriginality
of his connection to the ground
to hold him here
to the ground
as he got older
so he wouldn’t leave

but then

[sun glitter
on a ferry wake
the wash
tumbles a tower]

…he started collecting stones
washing them
making a stream of them
…we are nothing to stones
they are timeless

[water laps
sky dulls
a tower falls]

Do you dream?
I do


when I sleep
under the bridge
and when I busk
I dream

when I play my flute…
when I play well…
it is a dream
but if I am thinking
about getting a coin
to get coffee
or wine
the dream goes away
and the music goes with it…
sometimes I play
and someone throws me a coin
then I have to wake up
so I can have the coin…
but sometimes
when I wake up
no coin is there

[water laps
bats pass above]

Do you play music?
                            …I play the clarinet

[he looks at me
green-yellow-grey eyes
against deep brown
and states:]

you like the low notes

                         …yes, I do
                         the round low notes,
                         and sometimes the high notes
                         their clarity…
                          I like the climb
                          the stretch…

the climb
the reach
to the bird notes
and clear

[water laps
sky darkens
towers fall]

I would give you this flute
but your hands are too small

[he holds up the flute
ragged black nails
against golden wood]stacking_stones_1

I make them
from bamboo

[he smiles
and he is beautiful
beauty flowing
through the lines from his eyes]

.                       ..thank you

[water laps
city lights
waver on the river]

                      …it’s getting dark
                      I have to go

[a tower falls
he turns to me]

who are you?


                         … you?

… Samuel
                         Goodnight Samuel
[I walk back into the city
leaving Samuel by the riverside]


Filed under poem, rants

10 responses to “Talking to Samuel

  1. Pingback: Mystery Blogger Award | anotherkatewilson

  2. Pingback: stacking stones / talking to Samuel | anotherKate

  3. This is amazing Kate! Just amazing! I am so glad I followed the link from your most recent post (Oct 6, 21).

    • Thanks Worms. ❤
      I'm thinking of reposting it, because it's special to me. And it was such an early post that I didn't have any readers when I posted it.
      I looked back at the full version of my at-the-time notes yesterday, which included other bits of conversation – including the complete non sequitur "do you like the Mandelbrot set?" from Samuel. 🙂

      • wow. What an amazing interaction! It’s the sort of thing I read about in books and never believe that they actually occur.

        • I think they’re unusual because mostly we don’t have time to just sit for long enough to have a genuine conversation with a stranger, And being alone helps – had I had someone else with me it wouldn’t have happened because I would have been talking to them. And the location – a public but not crowded place, so I didn’t feel any threat from a strange man sitting down next to me. Being away from home helps too probably, because we’re more open to experience.

  4. What a marvellous and life-affirming tale!

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