Catherine Moore is the author of three chapbooks including “Wetlands" (Dancing Girl Press, 2016). Her fiction appears in Tahoma Literary Review, Illinois Wesleyan University Press,Tishman Review, Mid-American Review and The Best Small Fictions of 2015 anthology. She holds an MFA from the University of Tampa and can be found @CatPoetic.
She came upon the stone child soon after the snows left, a dwindled winter that exposed the rock in its ice receding. This child was limestone, not marble. A child of erosion, not chisel. The formation of face haunted the woman as she recalled its hued crevices for seven days at length. Twice she reached for a spade and stopped herself. At the early sign of a late freezing-rain she touched it for a third time, and decided to shovel the child out. This was no small feat as the earth has a grasp on all things it wants to own. By dusk, the woman and the stone child were inside her home’s warmth. That evening, she watched the moonlight pour in the windowpanes as it had never before and its luminosity moved quietly across the half-carved body. She wondered how to free the child from this frigidness.
She knew it would be difficult to thaw a stone child. A child left to the elements has hardened surfaces. Would resist chiseling. Has poised itself to blend with the landscape. Has learned to stay mute within the forest noise. A state of pristine silence, beyond the beyond, inside the cold of winter rock. The woman tried everything—immersion in water—consumption in fire — but the deeply engraved remained untouched. Neither the blazing heat of midnight tears or stone-cold day blade split the rock. The stone child was immovable. She would not be able to do anything other than wait for erosion’s child.
If the worship of statues could bring thaw, the woman would have held a child’s flesh forty-eight moons ago. What she didn’t realize is how much the mother moon could miss a stone child. Its cool steadfast light always seeping in to trickle an aloof caress on rocky crevices. The woman filled the child’s room with pitch black styrofoam, nebula filters to block the moon’s beckoning. But the cast of light between edge and thresh flickered under the door, like a purplish butterfly whispering under nets.
Soon there were nights that the moon did not come visit. Nights endless with the vile that loves the dark. Opaque clouds of sediment and intimidation drove folks from the streets. Shadows filmed over the house. The woman knew she had to give the stone child back. The moon would never cease. Softly she positioned the etched child on the front porch between shrouded-air and hearth.
They are there, living still— stone, woman, moon, all using shapes for what they are saying.