These rocks, plucked like rusty fruit from the granite field
at the construction site, were never so inviting as today
when, heaped into a momentary rockery, they gave
each hand-sized face to light as if this height of summer,
Solstice Celebration Day, meant to make a pink-lit temple
at the lip of our ravine.
It seemed a different thing
to take them down, reground them into useful lines
runneling the creekbed to the wash. To hold erosion
to a human pace, though a necessity,
could not assuage our sense that monuments
heap up, not down, and should stay visible from
the back porch steps. The heft and loft of each rock
we heaved to disappear into the snarl
of vines reclimbed the aching musculature to settle
in our heads. Rocks mark the place the living
cede the dead, but our garden Buddha, calm
at the head of the rocked-in creek, repeats instead his scholar
protégé Wang Wei: No one can tell which way
may flow the stream of paradise.
McMahon was first introduced to me in undergraduate, and is one of the poets I reach for, without prompting.