The Place Under The Pastoral Skies | Brian Michael Barbeito

It was a knowing. A Gnostic phenomenon. I had seen the place before, a place that stood quietly at the edges of a town. It was the type of place one intended to visit, but intentions are not actualities. There were around it wheat fields to one side, and large quiet looms on the other. Everything there was accepting the sun. But the knowing…

It happened that I got the feeling to inquire about working there. Though I was not a patron, and knew nothing of rocks, I said to my beloved, Hey, I am going to go work at that place and learn about the stones. It’s just a thing I am meant to do. And that is when I made my way to the place that rested under the pastoral skies.

The owner asked me if I might help sometime. I told her I was a quick study and then against good form or respectability perhaps, I added that I was ‘Like a child.’ That raised her eyebrows.

‘Like a child?’

‘Meaning I am open and not cynical. I know that I am going to, if given a chance, respect the rocks and learn all about them.’

‘I never heard it put that way, but it’s not a bad thing I would guess, eh?’

‘Not bad at all,’

Soon I was measuring and bagging the stones. The owner left me alone and though there were sometimes customers, for the most part I signed for, weighed, measured, labelled, and arranged the stones. I quickly learned much. There were hundreds of types. I was drawn to stones that formed natural cubes, or as natural as possible. Oddly enough, the crystals and the usual suspects, amethyst and citrine, rose quartz and others, did not speak to me. I sought out the others, and wondered what would become of them in time. Whose hands would they end up in? How far would they travel? Did they really possess secret or esoteric vibrations and healing qualities?

My hands and eyes went over Howlite and Malachite, across black Obsidian and Pyrite shining somewhat beside old windows. I held B.C. Jasper and bits of copper, smiled back at Moss Agate and Ametrine. An experience many wouldn’t get to have. Ever since, when others look to the cumulus or firmament, I am always looking for stones on the ground, for treasures. And they are there, they are there, they are there. They wait, and can wait for a long time. They are a half-open secret. Just look.

Ah, those stones, and to think that not only I am gone now, moved onto other times and environs, but that the place is no longer there. Maybe that original knowing, that sense, was because of them, was a message from them. Perhaps in an place between mind and matter, they said somehow, Come and see us, for you will not always be able to and we will not always be here. Come to our place under the pastoral skies. Come now. Come meet us for a while. You will not always have us, but you will have at the least a story and a habit of looking for us…

Not only can you not step in the same river twice, as Heraclitus announced, but it should be added that the river itself sometimes disappears.

Save for in your memory.


Brian Michael Barbeito is a Canadian writer. He is a two time Pushcart nominee with work that has appeared in various print and electronic publications. He is the author of the book Chalk Lines, [FOWLPOX PRESS, cover art by Virgil Kay (2013)].

Rachel Charlene Lewis

Rachel Charlene Lewis is a writer + social media editor, covering sex, identity, entertainment, and beauty. Her work has been published by Refinery29, Teen Vogue, SELF, Glamour, Autostraddle, and elsewhere. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @RachelCharleneL.