Spoonful: A Gathering of Stone Soup Poets

An extension of Cambridge's Stone Soup Poetry Venue.

Poem by Jade Sylvan

Photo by Vincent Ciaccio

The Wise Man

The wise man waits on top of the mountain.

I climb and see him, gaunt and tight,
pale with white hair blazing, cracked hoary mouth,
dry tongue and eyes yellowed like ricepaper, parched.

His hand shaking, reaches to mine,
hot tears quiver, my lips cannot still themselves
but they open and my question spills
liquid fast from my chest.

I hold my breath as his mouth presses thin,
his eyes looking into mine like shining fire.

“Beautiful girl,” he says,

“The first century I sat up here, solitary,
I knew the wind’s voice better than my mother’s,
and the slow growing of the trees was my family,
and the churning of the clouds and the birds
in the sky was my story.

“The second, when I could not remember
the shock of the touch of a lover, I sat and was satisfied,
and I remembered the voice of my brother
the morning I climbed the mountain alone,
and felt no remorse at knowing it would never
vibrate through me again.

“The third, the moss began to grow on me
and the little creatures of the mountain
nested in my hair and in my lap,
and they were my friends until they fell to bones,
and never did I weep for their inevitable returns,
but sat, a rock, a stone, a statue, and alone.

“The fourth, and my mind became the sky,
and I spoke only by the whistling of the grasses,
and was nothing and everything and one,
and saw the rolling of the ages in the river’s watershapes.”

He coughs, ancient wheezing through black teeth.
Tears slide in thin lines down creased, caverned cheeks.
His hands squeeze my hands, his eyes hold my eyes.

“Those first five hundred years,
I would have told you your answer lay within.

“That the greatest wisdom lived
in the whisper of the breeze and the flow of the river.
That to know, you must withdraw, meditate, escape.

“But now I am an old man – older than the trees –
and all I want in my last moments is to get laid
and fall asleep wrapped in those powder arms of yours.

“Hear me out, now. I’m wise, you see, and look at you
in your glorious glowing arrogance with those ice eyes
and curved calves and hell, that ass! Christ.

“Come on now, doll. I haven’t had a bed
in half an eon, but the rocks here aren’t bad
if you spread the leaves the right way,
and the sky is empty and you are so young
and I am so old and I don’t have the answers
and I don’t have the answers and neither of us ever will.

“So why don’t you just pick up
that ragged skirt of yours
and let me at those infant thighs.
You are so young and beautiful
and I have been lonely for so long,
oh lonely for so long and now
this desire is all I know
so please, sweetheart,
please give daddy
some of that sugar
here in the void.
I am so lonely,
so lonely,
so lonely.”