How To Spot an Agate

photo by Steve Peterson

I sat down to read Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s (@amylvpoemfarm) terrific new book, Poems are Teachers, for inspiration for my teaching. As it happened, inspiration found me, first.

As I read, I savored teacher-poet, Mary Lee Hahn’s (@MaryLeeHahn) poem, “Riches”, and remembered an ongoing conversation I’ve had with one of the kids in my class this year, someone who appreciates agates and cool rocks at least as much as I do.


Here’s what came of all of that: a reminder to slow down and gather with small stones.

How to Spot an Agate

First, you must find a place
Where the small stones gather.

Look to the beach
Where restless waves rock.

Go to the roadside
Where tires rarely tread.

Or, if courageous, to the graveled center,
Where hither ignores yon.

Then sit. Plant yourself, as if a tree.
And open your eyes.

Adjust your gaze.
Look past all shape.

Look beyond every color.
Catch the glint, instead,

The brilliant shaft,
A moment’s reflection.

That jeweled spark?
That is what you seek.

Reach out.
Hold it to the light.

– Steve Peterson

Published by

Steve Peterson

I teach fifth grade in Iowa.

8 thoughts on “How To Spot an Agate”

  1. “Catch the glint, instead.” Wise words, these. And true about so much besides agate too. This is beautiful, and I am saving it. Thank you, Steve.

    1. Thank you, Amy. What an honor to have you visit and leave a comment.

      And thank you for such a wonderful book. I am studying it for my teaching and for my poet-self.

    1. Catherine! Thank you so much for visiting. You, of all people, understand how important that glint, the angled refraction of experience, is to a life well-lived. I love the way you seek out those moments in your own poetry.

    1. 🙂
      I’m hoping that with school over for a bit I’ll be able to find a place like this, too.

      Trout like eddies, too.

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