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Poetry Moment: 'Rocks,' by Camille-Yvette Welsch

Camille-Yvette Welsch
Camille-Yvette Welsch

This is poetry moment on WPSU – a weekly program featuring the work of contemporary Pennsylvania poets. Your host is poet and author Marjorie Maddox, a 2023 Monson Arts Fellow, author of 20 books, and professor of English and creative writing at the Lock Haven campus of Commonwealth University.

Welcome to Poetry Moment.

Yesterday was Mother’s Day, a day that means different things to different people: love, remembrance, ambivalence, grief. In school, young students craft cards. Others present beautiful flowers, delicious candy, or mouth-watering. . . rocks? However you spent Mother’s Day, today’s poem “Rocks” by Camille-Yvette Welsch, reminds us that the greatest offerings—on any day to any one—may just be a child’s unabashed joy.

Camille-Yvette Welsch is a Teaching Professor of English at the Pennsylvania State University. Long a part of Pennsylvania public schools, she attended West Chester University and The Pennsylvania State University for her BA and MFA respectively. She is the author of FULL and The Four Ugliest Children in Christendom.

In this increasingly chaotic world, sometimes it takes a child to remind us what is good. Today’s poem by Camille-Yvette Welsch, “Rocks,” was inspired by a trip to the Penn State Arboretum when her son Sam was a toddler. May we likewise encounter—with our whole selves—what is good, and true, and waiting to be experienced.

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Here’s “Rocks” —for Sam

He pulls each rock from its place,
draws it close to his face, and licks it,
pronouncing it “Good” with such assurance
that I can almost be convinced to tongue
the thing myself. The blue-green-gray stones,
hot from the sun, teach my child difference—
hot, cold, big, little. He smacks them together,
clinks them with me, a kind of a toast to a day with sun.
I tell him, “You can’t eat rocks. Only the sea eats rocks,
then spits them out as sand.” “Good,” he says, this boy
who knows the world first by his tongue, as if tasting
puts the word in his mouth, giving him grace
to pronounce what he knows to be true—good, good, good.

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This poem originally appeared in Literary Mama (Winter 2015).
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That was “Rocks” by Camille-Yvette Welsch.

Listen for Poetry Moment with Marjorie Maddox Mondays during Morning Edition and All Things Considered on WPSU. You can more episodes at

Our theme music is by Eric Ian Farmer.

Marjorie Maddox is the host of WPSU's Poetry Moment for the 2023-24 season. She has been a professor of English and creative writing since 1990 at the Lock Haven campus of Commonwealth University.