Iron rusts, and bronze has its green sickness; while flint, the hard stones, flint and chalcedony,
Cut the soft stream of time as if they were made for immortal uses. So the two-thousand-year-old
Stone axe that Barney McKaye found in the little field his father was ditching kept the clear surfaces
Of having been formed quite lately. He wiped it clean on his sleeve, and saw, while he held it to show his father,
Between the knuckled fist on the spade-handle and the brown beard scattered with mud, the rounded hill
Toward the Dun River, the bay beyond, all empty of sails, and the cliffs of Scotland with yellow sun on them
Between two showers. His father looked at the stone. “’Tis nothing: they do be callin’ them thunder-stones,
I think the old people used them when short of iron.” It was taken home to the cottage, however,
And there was lost at the foot of the mud-chinked wall, in the earth floor.
The thatch took fire after a ten-day drought; the ruin was left abandoned; beautiful heather
Reclaimed the field. There was a Nora McKaye who married in McAuley,
Visited the site of her grandsire’s cottage the week before they sailed for America. A digging rabbit
Had scratched the flint into view again, and Nora she picked it up from between the nettles and took it
To remember Ireland, because it felt fine in the hand and had a queer shape. In Michigan it was thrown out
With some cracked cups after she died.
There it was taken for a Huron tomahawk
By one clearing rubbish to make a garden, who gave it to his younger boy, who traded it for bantam eggs;
It wandered from hand to hand and George Townsend had it. He moved to California for his son’s health
And died there. His son was a hardware merchant in Monterey, and displayed the stone axe beside the steel ones
In his window show, but after a time he gave it to the town museum. It lay dustily in harbor
Until the new museum was built, and there it lay on a shelf under bright glass, mislabelled
But sure of itself, intact and waiting, while storms of time
Shot by outside. The building stood up the hill by the Carmel road, and overlooking the city
Beheld strange growths and changes and ghastly fallings. At length the glass
Broke from its weary windows, then a wall fell. Young oak and pine grew up through the floors; an earthquake
Strewed the other walls. Earth drifted, pine-needles dropped and mouldered, the ruin was hidden, and all the city
Below it became a pinewood and sang in the wind.
White dawn grew over Mount Galiban and Toro Mountain;
A tall young woman, naked except a deerskin and her sunburnt hair, stooped heavily, heavy with child,
To the coals of a hoarded fire in a dry stream-course. She awaked them, laying lichen and twigs to catch up the flame,
And crouching found that flint axe, which winter water had washed from the gullied bank; she found it with joy
And hastily went up the bank. Dawn like a fruit ripened for sunrise;
Monterey Bay was all red and yellow like the flaring sky. The woman called down the gully, “Oh, Wolf!
Wolf?” He came up between two pines, saying, “You have scared the rabbits.” His beautiful naked body
Was as dark as an Indian’s, but he had blue eyes. She answered, “I had to tell you: I found your axe
You lost yesterday morning; it was lying by the ashes.” He took it and said, “That’s a good thing.
I was greatly afraid I’d lost it, but here it is.” She said, “How lovely the world beginning again.
Look, dear, there comes the sun. My baby be born as quietly as that.”