This Pile of Rocks

Alma Ortman
2 min readMar 27, 2021
Photo by Alma Ortman

How I like to spend my free time
is like this:
picking up rocks washed by river
gathering the flattest ones to stack
one on top of another —
I know the colors will
always amaze me:
deep safe purples,
eager pinks to red brown clays,
oranges and greens and all the grays,
white that is crystal and white that is milk,
yellowish speckles and strong stripes like
the ones I found in India
only weeks after you died.
(I can feel the grief now folded
in time.)

I place the pretty piles of stones
inside shelters that exist within the largest
logs of driftwood that make up this beach,
protected from tide and wind
so that when I return in one month
and two months and more,
they’re still there
intact or toppled over,
reminders of moments that were sacred
because each one has been built
as a prayer or a wish,
a grief or celebration;
one may even be for you.

The time your mother died.
The night you felt the moon.
The birthday you fell into alone
with glee.
The longing for tender magic.
The daughter that died too soon.
The friend that didn’t know how
to stop hurting.
The baby you never got to hold.
The tears of ours that could have filled this river
with void and bliss.

I return to my beach on days full of sun
or cloud, fog or birdsong,
ice in the winter, insects in spring,
always welcomed by
the river wave sounds
and my (our) piles of prisms
and other arts I’ve made with nature,
lines of steady rocks, mandalas with space
between and inside
to hold it all.

I have a practice.
I have a vision.
One day this beach
will be covered
in pure prayer.


© 2021 Alma Ortman. All Rights Reserved



Alma Ortman

Mindful poet & lifelong learner. Musings on belonging, authentic connection, joy, spirit, body, nature, inner work, vulnerability, self-love, fierce compassion