Mark Roper

Pebble

Speak to me pebble about the sea,
tell me how it picks a piece of rock
and cuts, carves, buffs, burnishes
to fashion this one particular oval.

And why, of millions on the beach
are you the one that catches my eye,
the one that begs to be lifted
and brought home to sit on my desk.

Pebble, that name unknown to you,
doesn’t it fit you like a glove –
blocky jostle of stone in ‘p’ and ‘b’,
slap and slosh of seawater in ‘l’.

On my palm, your cold. I close
my fingers around you, take you
on my tongue to taste the salt,
feel the sea’s patient making.

And all this leaves you unmoved.
What I want to say is that in the quartz
striping your red skin I can see
and hear the waves that formed you –

tell me why so bad this need to hold you,
how, in your stillness, sea’s unstillness.
Well, we both came from starlight,
you reply, and before that, who knows.

Mark Roper is an English poet, living in Ireland for some 40 years now. His latest
poetry collection Bindweed, Dedalus Press (2017), was shortlisted for The Irish
Times Poetry Now Award. A Gather of Shadow (2012) was also shortlisted for that Award and won the Michael Hartnett Award in 2014. With photographer Paddy
Dwan, he has published The River Book, The Backstrand, and Comeragh, books of
image and text about the natural history of County Waterford. He has written the
librettos for 2 operas composed by Eric Sweeney.