Digging in Rock Piles


So it's the eve

of my departure

back to school

and my 8 year old sister Emily

is playing

in the rock pile

in the front yard


She's the cutest

little girl in the world

lip curled

face smiling

I spyin, hair flyin

And I'd do anything for her

take any heat before her

head hits the corner

for sure

she's an explorer

like Dora

She's gotta lotta

friends that aren't real

But I love that

hold that

know that

she can't stop that

wish I could lock it,

if she built a rocket

get in that

in that





unadulterated recreation

of everything she sees

or anything she reads

Reality is not free

enough to free

her thought tree

she sees,

she believes,

she's crazy

and mom says

that she's just like me

But I take little to no notice

of her no-nonsense

nose dive

into the rock pile

in the front yard

and go inside to pack


Like some sort

of breathing manifestation

of our suitcase culture

I've become really good at this.

--packing I mean

and I'm long done with that

and pulling my suitcase

out of my room

When Emily,

comes bursting in

beaming, screaming

and seeming to bust

right out of her skin

thin smile covering her face

the greatest discovery on the face

of the earth

clutched in her hands

"I found gold!

REAL gold, I found gold!

Look, Matt, Look!

REAL gold!"

and clenched in

her two tiny hands

she held two halves

of a…

grayish rock

from the rock pile

in the front yard.

But closer inspection

and softer inflection

revealed small specks

tiny flecks of…

yellow, metallic, something.


And right there

right then

is when I realized

with real eyes

the disguise I'd devised

to satisfy

society's expectations of me

to prove to the world

that I'd grown up

that I'd shown up

that I'd sewn up

the child I'd been

with the crazy grin

and the pulled up pants

who could dance

put his friends in a trance

with the stories he'd tell

the kid who would yell

from the top of his lungs

from the top of the tongue

of the highest peak

in the playground

at the park

on fourth

"I'm on the top of the world!"


at the time, he was

that kid had imagination

had a fascination

with the unseen

the unbelieved

the unreached horizons

the boy with a license

to create

no life sentence too great

never sent in too late

who was 8 years old

and went digging for gold

in the rock pile

in the front yard

that was me


But lately

I've taken to worrying

hurrying, scurrying

around to the sound

of a far off drum

which has started to hum

to thrum

like some

sort of train

that I've been strainin

to gain traction on

track pain of attraction on

train lack of affection on

this engine of age

on the tracks of the past

had no back window so

I'd been lookin first forward

only onward

to a future so dim

in dawn light so thin

and so I'd been missin

what it meant to imagine

While I'd been searching

for I love I could hold

while I'd been frozen in fear

my creation on hold

while I'd been paused and perplexed

imagination dulled

while my strings

were being pulled

my 8 year old sister

had gone and found gold

in the rock pile

in the front yard


She says

"We'll take it to the rock doctor

and he'll say its REAL!"


We have forgotten

how to imagine

Somehow, somewhere

we got too old to think

that the sandbox

was one huge city

somehow, somewhere

we got too used up to see

the swing-set as

a mighty pirate ship

Somehow, somewhere

we got too smart

to believe in true love

Oh that we could imagine

with the mind of an 8 year old


So, I'm stepping into the car

that will take me back to school

and I've hugged Emily goodbye

Suddenly, she sprints back inside

telling me not to leave yet

And she's coming back

with a small object in her hand

Quietly she presses it into my palm

one half of a small grayish rock

with streaks of yellow

It's real gold

"In case they clone you,

then I'll know which one is my brother."

And in that moment,

My 8 year old sister

was a powerful, profound professor

teaching me something

no college course could


It doesn't matter who you are

doesn't matter how old

go dig in the rock pile

Go digging for gold…




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