by Frederick Wilbur
for Robert Leonard Wilbur (1915-1998)
It rolled in his pocket until its polish
betrayed its origin. To most anyone
it is just an oval whitish stone—
not an egg exactly, not a skipper,
but who knows, a chip of Grecian marble
found pleading on an ancient battlefield,
or some chance chunk of mountain,
that stream-tumbled, could not sneak
by the souveniring of bankside lovers?
And to suppose the story, is to corrupt
his fondest memory perhaps, to slander
that kind man’s lasting bequest. I dare not
take on the burdens of his life, but keep it
in unchallenged belief for my own sake.
AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: “Where I found it.”
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Great men are humbled by small wonders. Art, indeed life, takes on meaning in the seemingly insignificant, in imperfection, in those things which we daily pass over. The stone described in this loose sonnet is probably just a river rock, possibly only a pebble, but the fact that it belonged to the speaker’s father is enough. To speculate about its significance for the father is, however, to unfairly limit his feelings for it or remembrance about it. The speaker, without knowing particulars, doesn’t want to chance losing even this “part” of his father’s life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Frederick Wilbur has been an architectural woodcarver for 35 years and has written three books on the subject. The nature of craftsmanship, chance, and choice are recurrent themes in his work. Having lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia most of his life, rural living and the natural environment are relied on to explore human relationships. He is published in Shenandoah, The Lyric, The South Carolina Review, Cold Mountain Review, Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, Southern Poetry Review, The Sandy River Review, The Café Review, Greensboro Review, Slant, Appalachian Heritage, Snowy Egret, POEM, and Verse-Virtual (online), among others.