Tom Stoner

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Marble Springs 2.0 screenshot of Tom Stoner

What we know

1870 - 1928
Blacksmith for the quarry. His wife, Sadie, died giving birth to his first child, Katy, who in turn died of influenza at age eight. Tom never left Marble Springs after that.


by Cindy Wood

Millie told her she would
have no strength later.
And she knew that.
After their child was born,
there would never again be time.

She was not a good cook
and didn't sew well.
Tom kept the house together1,
even making a planked floor
to keep the dust down
when she did not sweep.

Sometimes in the evening,
she would gather her bits
and read her tales of
knights and dragons to Tom
as they rocked by the fire
he always kept burning.
She would drape his red flannel shirt
over her belly
to keep the baby warm.

He loved the way
she stitched one word to another.

He would reach for her soft hand,
fearful she might pull away
from the calluses on his rough hands.

She only did once,
as she was dying when Katy was born.
Tom saw her lying in the tatters and blood
and wanted to cry out,
to shout his pain that she was gone,
but Sadie had been his words.

Instead, he beat his hand against
the quarry marble
until his blood ran like hers
and pain overcame pain.

He went home to the sounds
of a baby cooing in Doc Nancy’s arms.
Tom grew a long beard
and seldom spoke
and day after day
wore the shirt Sadie
had once said she loved.

Katy was a beautiful child
who babbled as Tom rocked her.
He brought her in a basket
to the smithy to keep her warm
when she was small.

He tried to tell her Sadie's stories
until she learned to make up her own tales
of daisies and crayfish to tell to him.
Mrs. Miller watched her
as she grew like the flowers and trees.

Though Rachel Cole
gossiped that he was
letting her run too wild,
and that he should remarry,
Tom knew only how much
Katy loved the woods
and he loved her,
Sadie's own child.

He had no words
to tell a woman like Rachel Cole
to keep her own mind.

Tom believed in shoes.
He spent his days nailing them
to horses’ hooves at the quarry
and put Katy’s by her door each morning.
But Katy liked to feel the sharp stones
and cool moss beneath her feet.

One night Tom came home to find Katy
shivering shoeless on the porch.
He carried her inside
and burned everything
he could to keep her warm.

When the fire burned low,
he added bits of paper
with words he could not read
to start it up again.
For the first time,
he wished that Sadie had pieced
together quilts instead of fantasies
to keep them warm.

Katy died that night wrapped in
Tom’s red flannel shirt.
He put it back on
to keep her scent with him
and buried her without a word.

Day after day,
he wore that red flannel
to pound the iron shoes for horses’ feet
until even the washerwoman
could not beat the shirt clean.
He spent his nights rocking
on the porch,
listening to the memory of Sadie and Katy
telling him their tales,
sharing the words that were never his.
His lonely heart kept beating,
ringing in his ears like an anvil
that no one else could hear.





Portal caption and links

A drawing of a knight on a horse.
Sadie Stoner
Katy Stoner
Sarah Grimes

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