Finding a white stone on the stretch of sand
just below high water mark, I pick it up, thumb its glossy smoothness,
closing and shaking my hand to feel it roll around in my palm.
Because no one is around, I succumb to my desire to put it in my mouth.
immediately I see my father,
licking an unlikely-looking stone, and showing me the beauty he’s uncovered,
there, such a small amount in such a small thing,
and I begin to understand,
just a little, how he loves small things
that, on the surface, right at first,
seem so ugly, so common, so unlovable—rocks,
arid mountains, ugly and ignoble towns,
mangy cats and people,
almost all of them, who
like stones require the polishing and
magnifying effects of time’s abrasive sand
and magnifying still water to both create
and reveal their beauty and nobility,
all the more beautiful for its diminutive size.
All this, my father knows;
in all this, he finds a kind of communion,
a kind of worship,
taking in the
in tiny increments of intractable, startling beauty.
As I fall asleep,
the white stone an echo of moonlight
on the dresser by my bed,
the river whispers hushed mysteries, and,
in dreams at least, I think understand.