My mother collects worry stones,
when we go to beaches,
lakes or rivers, even places without water
she picks up stones and puts them in her pockets,
in her purse, my lovely mother.
Keeping herself steady on the ground
like a child’s balloon,
she needs those weights and so
she gathers stones like jewels.
The perfect worry stone
is flat, smooth
and thin but not too thin,
it needs a groove, a good place
to nestle your thumb.
My mother is a worrier,
and she strokes the stones
as if to sooth them, not herself.
She wears them thin
she wears them down to little blades,
smoothing and smoothing
those stones age backwards,
wrinkles stroked away.
My mother is a warrior
preparing to battle the Goliaths of her life,
pockets full of worries.
The stones wear thinner, thinner.
I tried it once: I picked one stone
from my mother’s raincoat and
I smoothed it over and over,
thumb in the small groove
my mother’s thumb had made,
I wore it thin. Poor stone.
It was only rock and
not made to withstand such emotion.
I wore it too thin,
until it was too brittle to touch.
Did my mother ever notice?
Maybe the stones
had been assigned a particular worry
and now it was missing, now the stone
for car crashes could no longer be held,
and the worries remained in her,
maybe we were no longer protected—
I don’t know. If she knew
she didn’t tell me.
But her skin got thinner,
as if someone had been
rubbing her forearms hard,
my lovely mother,
thin as stone.
Fiona* wrote this for Flux, an online forum for those of us encountering adulthood. She is the proud daughter of hippies and in a committed relationship with chocolate; she has a severe aversion to confrontation, shoes, and Adulting.
*Fiona is a pseudonym – this piece was written anonymously