Palm to stone one, dolomite

Hello my imminently august friends. Here we are at the scorched summit of summer, where despite the aridity and height there are still subtle traces of a time beneath the blue-green waters. A time that will without question recur.

Over the next few letters we’ll work with a simple image, one that I have encountered many times in many guises, and one you may have encountered as well. It is an image in the sense of an object beheld at the confluence of perception and spirit, held in the imagination. A scene contemplated in an attempt to unify its fragmentary parts into some whole.

The image is that of a cupped hand holding just a little water. But images are notable in their slipperiness; the water turns out to be the convex surface of a boulder, so that palm presses to stone. No, it’s the palm that is stone, a shallow mineral dish brimming with water. As I say, slippery. How about we just follow where it leads?

You can read the essay that originally accompanied this letter in Rising water / Palm to stone, a pamphlet I published in winter 2021.

A black and white photograph, taken sometime in the 1920s, of the brink of a moraine high over the flat water of Lake Michigan. In the foreground, the westward face of the bluff is illuminated gently by the afternoon sun. At the horizon stands a perched dune covered in a dense stand of cedars, silhouetted nearly black against a hazy sky. Before the dune sits a luminous white boulder nestled into the till.

I leave you for now with that to ponder amid this weighty heat. Maybe let it soak over a nice quiet swim. Or perhaps you’re reading this in front of your fireplace on the cool, breezy southern hemisphere — in which case, what insights might a bracing winter plunge bestow? At any rate, we’ll approach the image from a slightly different tack next month.

A few readers have picked up copies of the latest volume of Reliquiae, where three poems I wrote over the winter appear. The whole collection is really great, and I’m honored to be part. If you enjoy these strange walks we take together here in Polylith, you will most definitely dig Reliquiae. Until next month, happy imagining.