Daily Archives: September 8, 2010

Swallowing Stones and other discoveries


Journal 2010 016 (2)

 Swallowing Stones journal page mixed media

When I was a first grader my teacher told us that stones and rocks were very ancient and many of them were formed when the earth was first made.  She said that if we could dicipher the information locked away inside a stone we would then know everything there was to know.  That was the interpretation that I took away from this simple unit on geology.  That probably isn’t what she said at all, but I liked the idea of this concept.    I thought about this  quite alot and even asked my mother if stones were truly very, very old.  She agreed with my teacher that rocks are quite old.  Being six years old, this was a new and  intriguing idea.   Somehow I jumped from this to the idea that if I could manage to swallow a stone or two, I might suddenly become very smart about many things I didn’t currently know or understand.   A few days later I was digging in the dirt and found a smallish piece of gravel, I wondered if gravel counted?  Quickly decided that it definitely was rock like and therefore, did indeed, count.  I carefully washed it off, I didn’t have any inclination to swallow dirt, and I might add, sneakily washed it off because I didn’t want anyone to know my plan – I would just suddenly appear to have become a whole lot smarter!  I rolled that nastly little hunk of gravel around in my mouth trying to decide if I should swallow it or not, when without warning it moved down toward my throat.  Panic set in.  I decided I’d better get it back up since it seemed destined to become stuck if it went any further down.  I gagged and coughed, and tried grabbing it with my index finger, one last gag and it bounced out of my mouth.  I’m sure this all occured in a few seconds, or it might have had a different ending, but it seemed to me that the whole thing took a very long time. I decided  it would probably be better to get smart in the old fashioned way rather than trying anymore shortcuts.  I had a terrible sore throat for several days, and could barely swallow dinner that night.  I never told anyone what I had done.  I felt embarrassed by my lack of knowledge of the consequences of trying to swallow something as big or bigger than my throat.  I won’t say I didn’t ponder swallowing a much smaller stone, but the uncomfortable sore throat stopped me from trying.

The journal page above began with the usual heavy brown sheet of paper.  I cut some columns from a newspaper and then decided to sew them to a sheet of deli paper and glued them to the brown paper, and smeared some acrylic over it.  The female faces at the top are cut from a post card series of faces I did a long time ago.  I may add a few small stones to the page, but just didn’t feel like it right now.  There are three pieces of scotch tape I pulled from the binding of a very old book and it left some impression of the binding on the tape and I liked how it looked, you can make out the word “and” on one of the tapes.  They are tucked into a quiet little brown envelope with a golden pear on it.  There is a sand castle near the bottom of the page, which to me, represented dreams and hopes. I used some words from an old poem I wrote called “Swallowing Stones” but it has little to do with the episode mentioned above, but then again,  of course it does, because that is a part of my own history and everything is connected.  One verse says “Sly with watching someone else ~~Pushing names from a darker mouth ~~A stranger’s face, not she…Sidling head down sneaking off~~She goes begging with her…”   The last four lines of the poem are actually about being robbed of one’s childhood and the resulting sadness that no amount of stone swallowing can change.

“Her hands cold, clasped together~~Holding sanity as a prayer~~Wedged between her sobbing palms~~

Her stone filled mouth swallowing~~The afterbirth of grace, like alms”