Nathaniel Perry

Yesterday I spent all daycollecting rocks from onescraped stretch of our driveway to spreadalong another. The sunwatched me the whole time. At firstit was just me movingthe tractor every ten minutes to dumprocks in the loader, provingnothing more, you could say, than thata man can move a lotof rocks if you give him enough time.Worse lessons have been boughtby more than sore hands, if you follow.Though to say I was on my ownmight be stretching things a bit.The tractor is on loanfrom a friend, who himself came to helplater, bringing his girlswho ran with my kids collecting stonesbehind the tractor, hurlingthem into the three buckets we seton the box blade like Skee-Balltargets. The kids even got to steerthe tractor some. When allthe buckets were full, we laid the rockin the muddy swale where the rainhas been trying for years to take the road.And the sun approved, long stainsof its afternoon light by then stretched thinon everything around us.I kept thinking, as we worked,of Frost's bitter chorusof walls and neighbors and "old-stone" foolsbent to what they knew.Though we were making a road, at least,a clearer passage throughthe hidden fields and darker woods.But still that primal thingis there. When you've been given sweatand rocks and care to singabout, you sing the song you know.Like this: I'm not alone.May the curious prayer of work keep mein contact with the stoneand who knows what else. Something big,or bigger for sure than me,which is good, and I don't even needto know what it might be.

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Nathaniel Perry is the author of two books of poetry, Long Rules: an Essay in Verse (Backwaters, 2021) and Nine Acres (APR/Copper Canyon, 2011). His poems and essays have appeared recently or are forthcoming in Michigan Quarterly Review, New Letters, Kenyon Review and elsewhere. Editor of the Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, he lives in Virginia and teaches at Hampden-Sydney College.

Image Journal Issue 109 Cover


Seattle, Washington

Center for Religious Humanism
Seattle Pacific University

Editor in Chief
James K.A. Smith

Poetry Editor
Shane McCrae

Founding Editor
Gregory Wolfe

Image was founded in 1989 to demonstrate the continued vitality and diversity of contemporary art and literature that engage with the religious traditions of Western culture. Now one of the leading literary journals published in English, it is read all over the world—and forms the nexus of a warm and active community.

We believe that the great art that has emerged from these faith traditions is dramatic, not didactic—incarnational, not abstract. And so our focus has been on works of imagination that embody a spiritual struggle, like Jacob wrestling with the angel. In our pages the larger questions of existence intersect with what the poet Albert Goldbarth calls the “greasy doorknobs and salty tearducts” of our everyday lives. Learn more at

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