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What Sisyphus Knew by Isabelle Baafi

If you are holding this poem

in your hands, put it down.

This burden is mine; I will bear

it.The boulder is my heavyweight,

my anchor. The boulder is my ball,

and I its chain. The boulder is so

porous, the slightest giggle of wind

goes through it.The boulder is therefore

easily provoked to fits of rolling. The

boulder is passive aggressive.The boulder is

stone-faced. The boulder has no idea it’s a

boulder – and even if it were told, it would not

believe it. The boulder swipes right on

immovable objects, hoping that one will tame its

unstoppable force. The boulder was not always

round; it moulded itself to my chin, my shoulder’s dip,

the grip of my arms. This fucking blessèd boulder. It

does not fall it runs, from heights where it knows its

cracks will be seen. It jumps so that I will catch it. It heaves

so that I will hold its tufts of moss behind its ears. And I, a

hard thing, softening its fall – I lift it and no one notices I too

am heavy hearted. And yet, to be fair, the boulder deserves

better. The boulder needs a stronger hand than mine to steady it.

The boulder was mountain-cut; born precious and gleaming. The

boulder must be kept intact at all costs. The boulder just wants to be

your healing stone, your Boulderhenge, your doorstop for escape. But

when the boulder tries to roll all over you, don’t let it. If it rumbles to

your door at night, don’t haul the peephole to the side. Do not indulge its

crunching teeth, its sways, its scrapes, its cracking.Forgive it when it climbs

into your shoe, and you, while walking, feel it stab your toe and try to throw

it out, and it refuses to be dumped. Forgive its rockiness. Forgive its gravel

where should be grit. Forgive its inclination to go low, when you, for its

elevation’s sake, take the steep road. Most people fear their peaks and hide in

valleys. Most would choose to be bound to Earth, even if there were no gravity.

And what is gravity anyway, but a child that clings to whatever it fears will leave them?


Isabelle Baafi is a writer and poet. She was shortlisted for the 2019 Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition, and was Commended in the 2020 Verve Poetry Competition. Her work is forthcoming or has been published by Verve Poetry Press, Allegro and elsewhere. She is currently working on her debut collection.


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