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by Bella Mahaya Carter

My ten-year-old daughter
found it on a bed of pine needles
between her tent and ours,
a beige rock
with the dimpled face of a sponge,
small enough to hold in her hand
but too large to conceal
beneath closed fingers.
Flat on one side, round on the other,
cracked and crevassed,
the word PEACE
carved into its belly
in Roman Square Capitals,
a reminder of what I seek
in forests, lakes
and the silence of blue skies.
I journey through leaves and light,
river and stones,
hike dusty trails.
It is the steady climb I like best,
the gradual ascent,
mountain view,
wandering above tree lines
where the air is thin
but still I do not gasp.
Worry dissolves in wilderness
like aspirin in water.
This is my medicine, my peak,
why, when two weeks later,
my daughter loses interest in her find
I claim it for my kitchen window ledge,
place her rock above the sink,
surround it with family photos,
tea lights and fistfuls of daisies.


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