Stones by Eric Schwartz

(for mom)

I see you in the distance, moving along the curve

That Lake Superior has carved from the land.

I hear only the endless succession of waves lapping

And the constant wind rushing. I see no one else

On the beach but you, walking away from me,

Walking, head down, looking at the rocks smoothed

By millennia on the beach. You stop from time

To time, pick up one of these rocks, turn it

In your hand, examine it more closely, and

If you like this find, you put it in the plastic

Jug you carry. We are collecting stones.

Supposedly, we are looking for agates or

Greenstones to polish later. But really

we are just collecting pretty stones.

And more importantly,

We are just walking on the beach.


Years later, when you are in the house where you will die,

I rummage through the detritus of your life, the collected stuff

That seems as endless as the waves that lap upon the shore.

In the hallway to the garage cramped by collected bottles,

Broken appliances, and trash bags, I find a plastic jug filled

With pretty stones, some agates, all no more polished

Than the day you picked them up

And we walked the beach together.

Eric Schwartz has been teaching political science and other subjects at Hagerstown Community College since 2012. Prior to college teaching, he was a newspaper reporter and editor for about 20 years, working mainly in the northeast USA. He now lives with his wife, Margaret Yaukey, in Williamsport, MD. 

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