The Stone Pond

(Dibble’s Stage)

There is a place. Well, there was a place, where the sunlight danced through the maple leaves and glinted off the water’s surface.

My kid sister and I jumped from rock to rock. Sometimes, we missed, not often, but sometimes. It was fun to be naughty. What the heck. We were playing any way.

The pond was in a happy corner of a field, where two rock walls met and continued on. There, in that corner, was a low place farmers, past, ignored by pushing rocks, too large for the wall, into the water. It was a happy corner, of the world.

We would make our way across the pond — jump by jump, stone by stone — and choose a sizable one, far from pond’s edge as we could, and let the sunlight and shade dance around us.

Sometimes, we had a piece of candy or a cookie or two. Most times, we had just us. We would laugh like no one could hear us. And the hootin’. And a hollerin’. But again, most times, we would, just talk. We talked of little things — and big things. We talked of Mama, who worked all the time. We talked of Daddy, who was there no longer. We had each other. We talked of all those things and more.

For the rest of our lives — we never talked — like we talked in those days on the stone pond.

On the day my sister passed away – far, far too early – I wanted to run away to our stone pond – I wanted to, quick, take her with me – before she got too far away. But I couldn’t. I had matters of consequence that weighed me down.

I was always big brother. I took care of her, until she didn’t want me to. Then I couldn’t. Then I wasn’t allowed. When she died —because  she died, her husband was angry at me, as well, her children.

It did not matter I was a thousand miles away.  It did not matter, what was asked of me was impossible. It did not matter none knew her, even, half as long. It did not matter.

It does not matter. I will always be big brother.

Before that time, was the stone pond.

I would watch her stand up on a rock in the middle and sing some song she’d heard that day. How she remembered songs and lyrics,  hearing it only once or twice, I never knew. Or, she would play a play, playing every part, she had written in her mind, right there — from imagination to performance in a moment. Maybe not that long.

Each of the rocks were her different sets. The pond was her amphitheater.

Those performances were long — involved — complex and like life — and what was conceived in a flash resounds through all these years. Here was my little sister and I was in awe.

Years later, I watched her step to the front of a high school Christmas concert and like a full throated song bird — bind a spell around a filled auditorium. My friends were amazed. Mother was too. The whole town lived in that moment — the definition of awestruck. I was grinning from ear to ear. It was nothing new to me, but it sure did please me.

Years further on, I saw her play Lavinia in Mourning Becomes Electra — and as powerful as it was — everyone kept nattering at me — “Wasn’t she good!”, full of surprise, looking for my approval —even that — was nothing like our stone pond.

If I were a good Greek, of the Golden Age, I would have to believe the gods, for their own pleasure, alone, created that place from ages till — to ages yet, where sunlight danced and love did sing. Because, in all those years — the stone pond has known — only, one, love — for it was Dibble’s stage.