Beach Walk with Friend and Stones
To BLC, with thanks
I look for pretty shells—sun-paled and brittle,
the former homes of clams and scallops—bending
to claim them, as I did when I was little,
as if by grasping them, I’d be extending
my childhood by the sea. But here, the tides
deliver mostly stones—misshapen, gray—
and I dismiss them, though my friend decides
they’re worth a look. She stops along our way
to pick up pebbles, and shows me a few.
They’re oval, sharp-edged, red- or purple-flecked,
as pale as bones or water-marked with blue,
some flat enough to skip. Though I’d reject
them all, I nod and smile as she assesses
unlikely treasures: one, she notes, is pitted
with pinkish dents, one’s heart-shaped, one she guesses
must come from Africa. She seems committed
to seeing more than gray, to celebrating
each small discovery. She pockets six
or seven, but her eye’s discriminating;
she discards most, and keeps a motley mix
of specimens, exhibiting each find
to me first on her palm. She tosses one
whose gray is smudged with yellow—cloud combined
with just a bit of faded, unsure sun—
then waits as I walk back to rescue it.
I put it in my pocket: just a stone,
but salt-smoothed, depth-dimmed and yet subtly lit,
not by nostalgia but by grace unknown,
by time and tides that brought it to this shore.
My friend grins; though our tastes don’t quite align,
she knows that now I’ll look a little more,
and I know that her vision has honed mine.
by Jean L. Kreiling
Editor’s Note: The imagery in this narrative poem is so clear, reading it feels like receiving a painting from a dear friend—unexpected but ever so welcome.