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The Rock Balancer

Dead still, as if breathing with the rock,
he holds a boulder in his grit-flecked hands.
He tilts it to its base of smaller stones,
rotating it minutely back and forth,

until he feels it grab, or leap up, freed
of gravity by keeping faithful to it,
an arabesque on pointe, antic inversion,
a chair poised on an acrobat's raised chin,

or climber taking slack above a vale.
Harsh granite makes a harmony with air.
Most days the cairns survey the beach alone,
a stark coast guard outfacing a cold sea,

but today he's with them, kneeling on the sand,
their maker, Ben Gunn-bearded, driftwood boned.
He rents a room near here. By afternoon,
save for the odd seabird, they'll keep their own

mute company, the big-heads, standing out
in a steady drizzle, as across the street
the cafés cover tables in blue tarps
and the tide draws off the shore as they look on.

David Yezzi

Black Sea
Carnegie Mellon University Press

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