Envious Stone 

A poem by Mary-Martha Beard 

Inspired by this painting by Emmerson Spivey 

The thick aroma of asphalt after a summer storm surrounds me. 

I watch the clouds roll in the distance, clearing the way for the birds in the park to begin their song again. 

It begins softly, almost hesitantly, 

And then, all at once the sky is filled with bright sound and birds flit from tree to tree, despite the light sprinkling of rain that trails after deep blue clouds… 

I watch the birds fly. 

Oh, how I wish I could fly with them, 

But I cannot. 

My place remains here, on the ground, glued to a spot of someone else’s choosing. I spend each day watching in silence, 

I know each animal that creates a home in this park. 

Whether that be a hole in the ground or a nest in the trees, I know each one. I envy them all. 

Their freedom, 

Their ability to move through life in routine ignorance of that same gift… But there are none that I envy more than humans. 

I do long to fly or bound across tree limbs…but more than that I wish to experience a true life. I envy the human who walks his dog on dark frigid mornings, quietly urging his pet on so they both can go back to a warm bed;

I envy the human who sits under a tree to escape her own world, unable to appreciate it due to others making her world go gray and melancholy; 

I envy the young child who bends down on a rock, peers into the pond and pokes her finger in the water, a gentle attempt of making friends with the koi that live there; I envy the human who sits on the bench below me at dusk, obviously defeated after a hard day, tie pulled loose and shoulders bunched with tension. 

I envy those people and the rawness of their calm determination, hopeful wanderings, careful curiosity, all-encompassing frustration, and all the other emotions I’ve witnessed during years at this spot. 

Most of all, I envy their compassion, 

Most of all, I envy the mother and child walking hand in hand, holding tight so the child may splash in puddles pooled together after a summer storm; 

I long for nothing more than the ability to love and trust someone to hold me and keep me from falling and cracking. 

But I cannot. 

The girl shuts her book to go conquer her own world; 

The child eventually squeals in delight and runs to tell her friends of the koi that touched her finger; 

The business man receives a phone call, tightens his tie, and hurries away with promising enthusiasm straightening his shoulders; 

The mother and the child continue, passing by me, only a rippling puddle left in their wake. And I remain, 

As I am nothing more than stone… 

Envious stone.


Biographical Note:

Mary-Martha Beard is an English major at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. She is concentrating in writing, rhetoric, and publication, as well as pursuing a minor in creative writing. She has a little dog called Ziggy who she loves to take to the beach and she also enjoys sitting on the floors of local bookstores, reading the backs of different novels. Mary-Martha has always loved to read and write, but only recently started writing seriously. “Envious Stone” is her first publication. She hopes to continue writing pieces that show the rawest of human emotions.