Michael Shepherd

Rookie (8.4.1929 / Marton, Lancashire)

! The Stone And I - Poem by Michael Shepherd

By the edge of the mini-pond
where I sit when the weather’s fit for it,
there’s this stone.

I’d like to call it a rock
because that sounds more dignified
and metaphorical and carries
more tradition, but
it’s a stone

and on it grows a lichen;
not the vivid, flat, yellow and vermilion and red and black
lichen that grows on stone walls
by the seaside; this one
has those colours at its edge
but has a furry crop of tiny green fronds
cropping from its mossy green
which are quite vigorous in their tiny way.

I liked it so much that I tried
to get the other stones around the pond
to match, by douching them alternately
with urine and yoghourt in the approved manner
after dark for obvious reasons
but they didn't respond;
I guess stonecrop beautiful word
knows its own field so to speak
and won't be rushed, at least
it makes me treasure this one more

If I had the money which I haven’t
and the patience which I don’t
I’d have a perfect, model
Zen garden complete with sand
which I’d rake with a wooden rake
every morning into swirly lines
with graceful sweeping Tai Chi movements
until I got bored

but I just have this stone
with faintly Japanese pretensions
mine not its
however I’d like to think a Zen master
would quite approve of my modest intention
and say, less is more, more or less…

and now I think of it, the stone
has its own Zen garden; though whether
you could call this an eco-system,
whether the stone and the lichen
have a relationship, is open
to question, as is
whether the stone so agreeably placed
by the pool well OK pond
has a relationship with the pond

anyway, on a sunny day
the stone and I sit there together
if together is quite the right word
I feel we’re together whatever it feels
if it feels at all that is

and I guess it's even possible
in an evolutionary view of things,
lichen on stone, first life on earth
and all that, that the lichen
and I are really related, with
a common ancestor
which would account for a lot

and we sit there quietly in quite
a Japanese sort of Zen-ness
of being one with nature
and I become don’t laugh more stony
and still; as for the stone
I really can’t say but
It feels good

and in this state of relaxed contemplation
which I guess is the point of those
Japanese gardens
it occurs to me that the stone
and perhaps the water too

have qualities that I lack –
they know just how to be,
to be still, to be themselves

so there may be a point to what
we sometimes call with the trace
of a sneer,
communing with nature

since as Saint Augustine said
the whole cosmos is our
holy book; so why not
open it


[with a namaste to Augustine and Eckhart Tolle]

Comments about ! The Stone And I by Michael Shepherd

  • Ernestine Northover (7/18/2007 12:46:00 PM)

    I think this is an utterly beautiful write. I love the whole picture, the peacefulness, the stillness. I also love Japanese gardens they are so restful and calm. I hope your lichen spreads and gives your stone more friends.
    Love and hugs Ernestine XXX
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  • Colin J... (7/18/2007 5:52:00 AM)

    A moving, thought provoking poem.
    Colin J...
    (Report) Reply

  • (7/18/2007 4:58:00 AM)

    Er...you rock! Sorry, had to do it. This is a wonderful poem Michael, it made me smile all the way through and there's that added depth there which enhances it. Liked it? It boulder over! (sorry, sorry, I'll stop now.)
    Anna xxx
    (Report) Reply

  • (7/18/2007 4:41:00 AM)

    Trust you to cast the first one, Danny...watch out for the glasshouse though.. (Report) Reply

  • (7/18/2007 4:39:00 AM)

    It's possible that i'm just in a silly mood today but 'until i got bored' just had me laughing my arse off. But.... in seriousness (unlike Danny boy, tsk) this is beautiful, relazing, contemplative piece which gripped me M. As usual. Oh - and I don't think you lack those qualities. IMHO and all that. t x (Report) Reply

  • (7/18/2007 4:32:00 AM)

    If you were sitting by a brook, I'd be tempted to say you were babbling! (Or stoned?) (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Poem Edited: Tuesday, March 22, 2011

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