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​You can’t throw stones while washing feet.

by EllieMae


You can’t throw stones

While washing feet.

-

Those who have tasted rocks,

along the path they tread,

Have been embraced with humility.

-

The imprints of boulders,

Grace their shoulders.

And pebbles pry at their skin,

Slicing their spine,

Until they bleed.

-

Their blood falls like tears,

As they reflect on the stones they threw,

And the single sided battles they won.

The real battle was within,

Grace withered like a dried flower.

-

You can’t throw stones

While washing feet.


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Thu Mar 28, 2024 1:09 am
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Que wrote a review...



Hi EllieMae!

Thought I'd stop in for a review -- your title caught my attention since it's Easter this week. :) It's been a hot second since I've reviewed anything, so let me know if I need to clarify any of my comments!

You can’t throw stones

While washing feet.

To start off, your title is the repeated phrase which both opens and closes your poem. It clearly evokes the teachings of Christ (at least for me! though it's possible there is other inspiration behind it), but it's also two different phrases/situations that I've never seen put together like this. So, intriguing. I want to return to what I think this phrase might mean in the context of the rest of this poem.

Those who have tasted rocks,

along the path they tread,

Have been embraced with humility.

Hm! This was an interesting note to start off on. After having been presented with two versions of an active person -- one who throws stones and one who washes feet -- we see someone in a more passive position: someone who has "tasted rocks." Instead of the stone thrower, we see the person who had stones thrown at them. And, "tasted rocks" is a really visceral way to bring readers into the poem.

This stanza brings up two questions for me -- are these people the ones who wash feet? And, who are they being embraced by? Or is it just being embraced by humility?

The imprints of boulders,

Grace their shoulders.

And pebbles pry at their skin,

Slicing their spine,

Until they bleed.

I think that this is my favorite stanza. I feel like it's where you really dig into the poem, both thematically and in your language!

I love the "boulders/shoulders" rhyme, and how it not only implies people throwing rocks at them, but the fact that maybe they have to carry these rocks with them for a long time, they're burdened with it. The rocks have grown into boulders, and yet they somehow "grace" those who bear them, an interesting contradiction.

The "pebbles pry" and "slicing... spine" also give us some nice alliteration.

Their blood falls like tears,

As they reflect on the stones they threw,

And the single sided battles they won.

The real battle was within,

Grace withered like a dried flower.

If the "they" in this stanza are still those with the imprints of stones... does this mean that they were stone throwers, too? I wonder, then, who are the ones who wash feet? Is there no one?

I'm also curious about the battles. It sounds as if throwing stones is a one-sided battle, because the other person doesn't fight back, but it withers their inner grace, meaning they really were on the losing end of the battle.

Then, you close out with your opening stanza again.

Here's a couple of overall thoughts I had:

I'm a little sad that washing feet never came up as an image! I really like the way you put together those two ideas, but it would have been nice to see a reference to the latter outside of the opening and closing stanzas.

However, you do take the stone throwing image pretty far, which is great. I like the lot of the imagery you have surrounding that, and I think it's a strong point of your poem.

What could, I think, be tightened up a bit more is two things. First of all, the transition of the people who have been hit by stones to the stone throwers. I think it might help to clarify whether these two groups are actually the same, or, if they're different, what does that relationship look like?

The second thing is the imagery in that last stanza -- battles, blood, and a flower. The blood definitely links to the middle stanza, which is nice. The battles and flower are a little more vague. They're nice, but your rock imagery was so concrete that it would be interesting to see language with more of a connection to the previous two stanzas. For example, what if grace turned to stone? (or that's probably making the stone throwing/hitting even more confusing XD)

I think you're playing with some really fascinating ideas here, and kudos to you for taking this kind of theme on! It's definitely a poem that encourages you to think, especially with that recurring stanza.

I was glad to come across this today! Let me know if you have any questions. :)

-Q




EllieMae says...


Thanks for this amazing, in depth review! It means so much :D



Que says...


I'm glad, anytime! I didn't realize how much I'd written until it posted. XD




The heavens laugh with you in your jubilee; my heart is at your festival.
— William Shakespeare