Listening Stone – deCordova series

Listening Stone
Joseph Wheelwright
DeCordova Sculpture Park, Lincoln MA

Right here, hold your ear.
The rhythms of earth.  What do you hear?

The rumbles of rocks, and secrets of stones.
The dullness of dirt.  The creaking of bones.

Lips so sealed, never yield
The tales that are from us, concealed.

* * *

Wheelwright created Listening Stone specifically for the Sculpture Park from a giant boulder excavated on the DeCordova’s grounds. Once transformed into a disembodied abstracted head, the sculpture was positioned in relation to nearby rock outcroppings.

I was fortunate to enjoy a beautiful summer day at the DeCordova with my kids.  Their encounters with modern sculpture in the lush natural setting were refreshing, frank and uncensored.  My son gently cleaned grassy debris from this behemoth’s ears and nostrils.  My daughter wondered if the head could have fallen from an enormous statue, like Mt. Rushmore.  I enjoyed snapping photos of the weird and wonderful works, and pondered my compulsion to write poetry about our impressions.


About Cathy Ballou Mealey

Children's book author, repped by Liza Fleissig of the Liza Royce Agency. Wife, mother, daughter, sister, alumna, autism advocate, book reviewer. Reach me via email at or Twitter @catballoumealey
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20 Responses to Listening Stone – deCordova series

  1. Lovely poem. What a great idea to take your kids to the park and let them experience a contemporary sculpted rock. Sounds like a great day.

  2. What a cool sculpture and a wonderful poem! I love the idea that he’s listening to “the rhythms of the earth” – just beautiful 🙂

  3. Sue W says:

    I love the poem…totally goes with the sculpture. You asked;I thought -what do I hear?
    What opportunity to slow down, watch, and listen among your babies. A sweet day. I miss the DeCordova!

    • Sue – I was the slow one! The kids were racing from one ‘thing’ to the next and hubby was lugging the heavy backpack for our picnic. At least the sculptures waited long enough for me to take a photo. 🙂

  4. I love trips with my family when we can all have a great time together — while also taking something deeply personal from the shared experience.

    A delightful post and a great poem!

  5. Susan Brody says:

    Love your poem! The Head reminded me of my local art museum in Montclair, NJ. As you walk toward the museum from the parking lot, you pass a giant disembodied Buddha head lying sideways on the grass. I never realized it – it must be listening to the Earth too!

  6. Douglas Florian says:

    It really works well for me!

  7. Wow, that is beautiful – both the sculpture and the poem. So evocative, it’s no surprise at all why it would inspire such a poem. Really lovely, Cathy!

    BTW, I haven’t gotten your posts in my inbox. I just put my email in again, so if you don’t see me around here, you’ll know it didn’t work!!

  8. Iza Trapani says:

    Terrific poem, Cathy! And I love the head too. My sculptor husband and I will have to go there one of these days. Thanks for informing us of it 🙂

    • There’s an exciting new project proposed for the deCordova. Andy Goldsworthy wants to build a commissioned work called Snow House – a granite architectural structure reminiscent of New England ice houses. Inside will be a huge snowball – 9 feet in diameter – that will slowly shrink when the icehouse is opened in the summer. Should be fascinating!

  9. Pingback: Humming | bildebok from Cathy Ballou Mealey

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