Rockhound by Cara Rodriguez

I huddled next to the glowing coils
of the space heater
in my father’s workshop.
He taught me about rocks and minerals,

the translucent rust blocks of rutile,
green tourmaline,
jade and granite and garnet,
the deceit of pyrite.

He taught me how to gather them,
label them,
showed me what part of the mineral I could touch
and where my small fingers
would break the crystals.

On weekends I hunted
the hills and cliffs on the edge
of town. At recess I devoured
the school yard, searching,
digging. Dusting off agate
and petrified wood,
I pressed my thumb against
their cool round edges,
until I felt their secret pulse.
I cupped calcite in my hand

and heard its whisper
be sensitive,

held quartz up to the sun
crying, Variety! Variety!
quinting as the light came through.

I filled my pockets,
held the small teachers tight
in my palms,
and when there was no more space,
they were shoved into my backpack,
next to a peanut butter and honey sandwich.

As I grow older
rock, stone
and mineral appear in
odd places—in my bed, my shoes,
they are brushed from my hair.
They glint in
words spoken around me,
(galena’s warning
                           experience will taint you).

Dense, crystal boxes of light and lie,
and thick, jagged angles
of hard argument
fall from my fingers and
scatter along the ground where I walk.

I hold a piece of schist,
pick at the tight layers,
and think, “This is my brother,”
or myself.

The earth’s crust is
12% quartz.
When I move I am aware of what is
beneath my feet,
those clear and foggy points
of what I thought were diamonds.