This week’s poem brings us into the presence of granite, as a stoneworker expertly splits it open. I love the tactile details and sounds that poet Sonja Johanson brings to the rock and to the act of working it, as we briefly share in the intricate life and music of stone.

Johanson’s work has recently appeared in THRUSH, Bellevue Literary Review and American Life in Poetry. She is the author of “all those ragged scars” (Choose the Sword Press), “Trees in Our Dooryards” (Redbird Chapbooks) and “Impossible Dovetail,” a chapbook in the “IDES” anthology (Silver Birch Press). Johanson divides her time between Massachusetts and western Maine.

Poets, please note that submissions to Deep Water are open through the end of the year. Deep Water is especially eager to share poems by Black writers, writers of color, indigenous writers, and other underrepresented voices. You’ll find a link to submit in the credits below.


Splitting Stone

By Sonja Johanson


Don’t be fooled by the dopey grin

or that accent – this man

can do the math. 26,000 lbs.


of Deer Isle granite, split

with a 2 lb. hammer, same

as the 19th century. He can


prop up the feathers and wedges

like ramets burst from a nurse

log, felled in some long-off


blow. He can play that block

of stone as though it were

a glockenspiel – tap, ting


tap, ting – down the three part

line. The small cracks begin

to form; if you listen closely,


you can hear the faces starting

to shear. You can hear the music

of the hammer on the wedges,


the deep tones changing

as the granite breeches, the groans

and pops as openings reach


for each other. The hollows sound

as they come apart, the crackle

and pause; there is a pling of iron


as he pulls the feathers out,

silence where the stone

once was, but isn’t anymore.


Megan Grumbling is a poet and writer who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “Splitting the Stone,” copyright © 2015 by Sonja Johanson, reprinted from IDESpublished by Silver Birch Press. It appears by permission of the author. Submissions to Deep Water are open now and through the end of the year. For more information, go to

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