Robert Vivian

My Neighbor St. Therese

I am the mouth of the little thing, little way, so small it often goes unnoticed, unseen, and when I speak it is like the miracle of a dust mote lit up by sunlight so bright it becomes brightness itself and no room for darkness, not even the clipped apostrophe of a shadow and lighting the air to float and little thing precious but forgotten thing, jewel box spider dead in a day and hollow wisp of straw that sings what it can of brightness, the least part or veined leaf blowing across a rail yard and the smell of creosote, weeds, or lump of coal, anything left behind or discarded and the love that got away to end up nowhere that is somehow still clings to a button, a piece of torn paper, a note card with a recipe on it or a penny shining in the gutter for the little thing and little way is what mows the grass and takes out the trash and makes sure the dishes are put away along with the forks and spoons, little helpmate, little worker bee, little necessary beggar and cripple with pleading eyes and little thing and little way are not seen or advertised, no cameras or mirrors to strut their stuff in front of, little fish, little minnow and the wake it makes is but a breath beat of water and tendril of water beckoning you to some unseen current and I speak of you now at the edge of a whisper that is almost afraid to speak for little thing, little way, little speck of being how close you are to silence and nothingness, how close to broken slat of windmill who gave its life to gust and breeze and little thing, little way, a hand reaching for a door or a hand lifting a teacup or a diaper with careful fingers the petal of you is a tiny, tiny rose that will never be famous, never be sought after as the love you bear and suffer is so small only the stars believe it though others say oblivion, oblivion, but I know your mouth is my mouth and your voice my voice as together we take care of what we can however brokenly and imperfectly, cleaning a kitchen floor on our hands and knees using our tears for water, the smallest cry in the mouth of the smallest thing, offering even the little we are because there’s nothing left of us to give, not even a flower.

When The Stones Abandoned The World

All at once the stones picked themselves up in the barren field and started walking toward the horizon, silent, solemn march of going elsewhere and rose the thrust and the warbler and the startled robin and I could see that the stones were naked but unashamed and wanted to be washed again and rose the wind and the dust and where was the earth going but to another place not of its keening and to watch the stones I felt abandoned and I did not ask the stones why I was being left behind in a land without them and rose the other birds and still others, rooks and crows and turkey vultures and smoke from a distant fire and if you could see the stones moving, if you could see them turning away you would wonder with me if home was a dream we tell ourselves to keep from dying though death is with us always in the smallest things, a moth on the windowsill with its paper wings full of dust, old, faded pictures of loved ones long since gone into the ground or wind, but the stones wouldn’t say anything as they were moving for they had lain prostrate long enough and the whole earth seemed to tremble and shimmer in the wake of the their passing and it was not without its startling shock of beauty—I mean the way the ground burned after them in variegated fire, I mean the heart and quake of it that had its equivalent somewhere inside me as I knew I was being left behind by the most elemental of forces and there was nothing I could do, nothing, nothing, but watch the stones leaving on their steadfast journey and vault of sky above them, changing itself with every drifting cloud to show them how it was done.

Robert Vivian is the author of The Tall Grass Trilogy, Water And Abandon, and two collections of meditative essays, Cold Snap As Yearning and The Least Cricket Of Evening. He’s currently working on a collection of dervish essays called Mystery My Country.
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About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis ( is the Editor-in-chief and founder of Posit ( and the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom (winner of the Washington Prize), Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her poetry has appeared in anthologies such as Walkers in the City (Rain Taxi), They Said (Black Lawrence Press), and Resist Much, Obey Little (Dispatches/Spuyten Duyvil), as well as in journals such as Agni, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Conjunctions online, Diode, Interim, New American Writing, and VOLT.