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.