Stonework is published by Houghton College, a Christian liberal arts college located in New York’s rural Genesee Valley. Stonework seeks a diverse mix of mature and emerging voices in fellowship with the evangelical tradition. Published twice a year, the journal reflects the arts community at Houghton College where excellence in music, writing, and the visual arts has long been a distinctive.

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  • Issue 6
    Poetry by Paul Willis and Thom Satterlee. Fiction and interview with Lori Huth. Essay by James Wardwell, and student poets from Christian campuses.
  • Issue 5
    Poetry by Susanna Childress and Debra Rienstra. Fiction excerpt by Emilie Griffin. Art from Houghton's 2007 presidential inauguration and a forum on women writing.
  • Issue 4
    Matthew Roth--new poems. Diane Glancy--from One of Us and an interview. John Tatter-on gardens and poetry. The Landscapes of John Rhett. Stephen Woolsey--on the poetry of Jack Clemo. James Wardwell--on Herrick.
  • Issue 3
    Poetry by Julia Kasdorf, Robert Siegel and Sandra Duguid. Fiction by Tom Noyes. The portraits of Alieen Ortlip Shea. An anthology of Australian Poets
  • Issue 2
    Thom Satterlee - Poems from Burning Wycliff with an appreciation by David Perkins. Alison Gresik - new fiction and an interview. James Zoller - Poems from Living on the Floodplain.
  • Issue 1
    Luci Shaw — new poems with an appreciation by Eugene H. Peterson & Hugh Cook — new fiction and an interview

Friday, January 25, 2008

Walking the Ridge Home

~John Leax


With my whole heart I want to praise Thee

In snow calf-deep I climb the ridge through pioneer forest—

the trees

thorn apples crowding the field’s edge

yield ground under shadowing black cherry ash

and straight white oak

the river at my back

frozen in February light a promise imagination claims in darkness

Here I have kicked grouse exploding

from sheltering drifts

and jumped back delighted in surprise

And I have tracked turkey following the arrows

of their feet backwards

to the high ground of their roosts

On this cold day

in the wind descending to the tallest oaks

the tallest oaks yielding

as if called

(obedient to the leading)

arc rooted trails against the silver sky

I place my feet with care

plunge my stick through the sharp crust

to find the holding earth

heart pounding breathe breathe

through the trees arcing

in the wind turning on the ridge

in the surrounding light

the light of the valley

the light above me

the light below me

the light of the world


Oh darken not to me Thy light

The descent beckons—

the heart prints trail away

from the narrow path

half filled

obscured in the time of their passing

by the dust of snow

I follow

Under the hemlocks

the down sweeping branches

catching my watch cap

lifting it lightly

snow imperturbably cold

like a leather collar

on the back of my neck

when I release the branch

from my hand

The inclusive silence of the wood

contains the day’s vernacular

as the sky contains the silver light

the hollow thunk

of woodpecker pounding

the combustive thrum of cars

in the valley

foot steps

even the wind

if it blows

through the oak tops

like the acorns

falling into shade

has no given word

to liven the dumb darkness

of the grove


Teach us dear Lord to number our days


Where the ground falls away

paying the debt

of the steep slope

logged and forgotten

the charred remains of fire

a circle of stone

a tent of deadfalls

tossed against an oak

adequate perhaps

to shelter

a saint at prayer


Where the apples grow


and tart

so good every autumn


strays to bite


that clean flesh

of the lost garden

gone for good


Where the plantation pines

rise in afternoon light—

a convocation of crows

insolent in shining

regalia mobs

the mouse-satisfied



O satisfy us early with Thy mercy

At the edge of this opening in the woods

the poplars

I declare with the Psalmist

lift up their arms in elegant leaflessness

praising you with the white sheen of their bark

with their rooted journeys in the wind

with the crooked fingers of their hands

spread to receive the blessing of your snow

O that I might stand in their silent choir

a stilled voice going like them no where in the whirl

of the world turning in time

O that I might be mindless of the loss

that has brought me to this place of your making

and unmaking

But you have made me mindful

filled my mouth with words to name

the crow the owl the mouse

you have made me mindful

to love the predator and prey

to taste on my tongue the sacrament

all creation eats

one life for many

such mercy the blessing of your snow


Establish Thou the work of our hands


the kingdom of God

the economy of culture

minding the world

a burl of words

white pine in rows

even aged

(stepping down to the little stream


from the far slash

of quick profit)

work of the passing mind

intending renewal

Commercially difficult

poorly formed


growing stock

Harvest is recommended Removal of inferior pine

of highest importance Openings can be made

where hardwood introduction has begun

In the cathedral light of failure become

shade I stand stilled in ambition’s end.

On the snow

banked beside me

a pile of bones


and in the stream

the bridge

drawn down

by water’s mindless


to fall


Let all the tumult within me cease.

I know O Lord you speak in words made flesh

in the chick-a-dee dee

sounding from the thicket

in the canopy creak of the oaks

straining for the light

in water slushing

under ice

With my whole heart

I would serve you

serve you with my finest praise

lifting as freely as mist from the snow

but words lodge homeless

in my throat

Once long ago in the Siskiyous I crossed

open scree near a mountain’s summit

Far to the south

Shasta rose


the hope

of Paradise

in California cloud

I sucked—in one breath—

the emptiness

the terrible beauty of your way

O how can I know you

how comprehend what mystery caused

you to speak once in word

and once in flesh

O So Close Disclosing

Knowing If Not Known

I am all longing



This dwelling, O God, by Thee be blest

If you should take back your Spirit Lord

and gather to yourself your breath

all all would perish

the little stream plunging

like laughter

into the larger creek cutting this opening

in the ridge rising

from the ancient bed

of the distant river

the hemlock grove

shielding its flow

heavily stocked

in need of future treatment

the hardwood stand

rising in light on the gentler slope

around the point

white oak hickory ash

well spaced for optimum growth

the orioles who hang their nests

and sing bright splashes

in the leafing tops each spring

these words I say

giving up all claim

to make with them

any world not made

already by your grace

my friend walking here in autumn swelter

“One could make this a place of worship”

Up the knobby spine

Thy kingdom come

I place my feet with care

Thy will be done

plunge my stick through the sharp crust

on earth

heart pounding breathe breathe

through the trees arcing

in the wood bending word

as it is

climbing home

in the surrounding light

the light of the valley

the light above me

the light below me

the light of the world

forever and ever

Joy Joy