Skip to content →

The Tale of the Grief Stopper

The Tale of the Grief Stopper

A stone created by this river is called the pausilypos. Anyone grieving

who finds this stone is immediately relieved of the pain which holds him.


On the day another boy

was shot, I took a stone

from this river. On the day

I heard his name, I lifted it.

I held it. It glittered

in the summer sun.

Aspens fluttered.

Cicadas thrummed.

I caressed its small, soft

skull. The boy was six-

years-old. He was

at a garlic festival

when he was shot.

Greeks placed bulbs

of garlic on cairns

at cross-roads—a gift

for Hecate—as protection

from demons.

It was the son of Poseidon

who threw himself

into this river when

his own son marched

against his neighbors

and was killed. He was

held down by water,

by the water’s hands

which are not hands

the way water is not grief.

His grief turned the river.

Now all we have are stones.

They are hard and small

like something in my shoe.

Like someone is walking

on my soul. He was six-

years-old. The river

is dry now.

The water is gone.

Aspens quake

in the bright air.

Cicadas crackle.

All that’s left

are stones.

from Museum of Objects Burned by the Souls in PurgatoryFind more by Jeffrey Thomson at the library

Copyright © 2022 Jeffrey Thomson
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.

Published in Jeffrey Thomson Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.