On Not Recognizing the Stone Is a Lion

by Nick McRae

The people of the village
mill past it every morning
and they carry on their backs
bundles of kindling and pig
fat and sometimes their babies.
Old men perch on the stone
to rest and they lay their canes
across their laps like rifles.
Winter, the stone slicked
by snow. Boys reckon
the tactics of a snowball fight.
Spring, and girls tug
their sweethearts by the wrists
to kiss them under cherryblossoms.
They do this every year.
The girls do this so they will remain
tender and their wombs will open
like a cannon’s mouth.
They do not recognize the stone is a lion.
They do not know that by Summer
they will hang limp from its jaws,
the dust still settling on the road to Warsaw.


Nick McRae is the editor of O Tempora! Magazine, a new online journal of poetry and poetics, and has served as editorial assistant for both Lifewriting Annual and a/b: Auto/Biography Studies. His poems have been published in DIAGRAM, Stirring, Rock & Sling, and elsewhere. He was a finalist for the Agnes Scott College Writers’ Festival Award and is a former Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets fellow.

Back to Issue Two: Winter 2009