It is not, so much,
the loss of coffee with friends,
or family visits,
that is isolating.
Rather it is the loss of chance encounters,
a conversation with someone stacking stones –
that unexpected realisation of another’s humanity,
that reminds us of our own.
Prompted by the dVerse quadrille “throwing poem stones” prompt, although I have been thinking about stacking stones a bit lately. The second thing I ever posted on this blog, and the first “poem” I wrote after many years, was Talking to Samuel/stacking stones. I say “poem”, because it’s really just a record of a conversation with a homeless man stacking stones, as accurately as I could jot it down afterwards.
I don’t think I am feeling isolated due to covid. But I think I am feeling a lack of humanity – my own and other people’s. Ren Powell talked about compassion fatigue in one of her posts ( I can’t find it again now 😦 ) – that we need to think of people suffering misfortune as not like us, as “other”, so that we can feel safe.
And as the relentless barrage of news continues, so gradually we shrink our circle of firelight, and more and more people become “other” to us. My circle of firelight seems very small at the moment.
With masks, and distancing, and staying at home, we lose the chance encounters where we talk to a stranger – with no agenda, no expectations – and are simply one human talking to another. And recognising that they are not “other”, that they, and we, are both just human.
I am in no hurry to leave the mask behind, or go out unnecessarily. But I would dearly love to sit and talk to a stranger stacking stones again soon.
26 responses to “stacking stones / talking to Samuel”
I love this – those last lines!
Thank you 🙂
What JYP said!
Thank you ❤
I know what you mean, Kate – just to taste those spontaneous connections again!
I guess we just have to wait. 🙂 I was hugged by a “check-out chick” once after we’d talked for a while, while I was buying groceries. These days we barely even nod to people behind our masks and a spontaneous hug like that is unthinkable! It’s hard to imagine now.
That’s wonderful. Hope we return to those times.
A thoughtful post.👍
I tend to overthink things. 🙂
Not necessarily a bad trait for a writer! 🙂
better than steppin stone
third rock from the sun
This is a very interesting idea, Kate, and, I admit, not one I had thought of at all… Thanks for the new [to me] perspective.
Thanks David. 🙂
Love this Kate. I can relate. Funny when I first read it I thought you said, “dance encounters”. LOL I should put my reading glasses on. But I miss dance encounters, too. 🙂
😀 I don’t even remember the last dance encounter I had!
This is a beautiful poem, and your comments after are the feelings of many. Hugs.
Thank you ❤
❤ I love your poem and your afterword, Kate. Those conversations *are* vital to our life force. I had one of those yesterday when I was taking kitchen scraps out to the compost pile. As I walked back to the house I heard a voice say, "Hello Neighbor!" It was an older guy walking his older dog. I learned he lives down on the corner. Years ago, when my dog, Chauncey was near the end of his life and had started running off, he ran down that way and across a street that should have killed him. Those neighbors saw him and saved him and called the number on his collar. All I said that day to them was a joyous thank you. Nothing since then. His "Hello Neighbor!" and the conversation afterwards brought just as much joy to me as that day.
That sounds like a good connection to have renewed. Animals do pave the way for making a connection. Mostly in a good way, although I have had to apologise for my pig going visiting a few times.
LOL. Follow the truffles!
I can understand this Kate: I have too much of a tendency to be reclusive, having a reason to indulge it is not good for me!
Yes, me too. I love having an excuse to not go anywhere.
I walk the bushland and whenever I find the stacked stones I sense that the person who was before me that stacked them is saying, “Hello, these are for you, for me, for the both of us passing through this place. I acknowledge we have been and now will always have been, here. I wish for our footprint to always be as light as a small stack of stones. Please leave no other trace.”
I liked the transience of Samuel’s stone stacks by the river, that not even that trace was left for long.