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  • Wandering along the water’s edge
    on a fog bound day
    I pause and listen.
    The cold waves sweep in long arcs
    from where I stand to the far end of the cove.
    I listen to the long chatter of stone on stone on stone
    until I hear the deeper sigh
    that marks the bold thrust of the ledges.
    I know the island rises spiky with spruce behind me.
    I know across the channel, tourists cruise the seawall and
    peer into the fog’s blank face
    desperate for a view.
    But right now, there is only the long mutter of this wave,
    only salt sea and stone and me.

    Gray sky merges with gray ocean,
    a landscape with neither horizon nor boundary.
    Today, small things stand out,
    A sparkle in the tide’s ever shifting margin
    from a long polished gleam.
    Some days, the deep reds catch my eye
    other times the dark brilliance of jet black.
    Today, I am drawn to the translucent green cobbles.
    Other hands than mine once reached for these same stones.
    between the glaciers’ retreat and my grandfather’s time
    the Wabanaki, the people of the dawn,
    walked this rocky beach to find the stone
    for points, hand-axes and scrapers.
    In the fog’s perpetual twilight
    I can feel them,
    just behind me.

    After a rain, I search along the bank
    where winter storms carve away the shore
    to find the chips and flakes that remain.
    Fragments from lives set aside and never reclaimed.
    Once, a copper pendant
    green with time.
    Once, a shard of pottery
    fired red and black on the outside,
    and on the pale curve inside,
    a fingerprint.
    Today, a knob of bone reached for me.
    A young seal’s hipbone
    scored here and here
    with the angled grooves of stone knives.

    My mother sees
    50 years of collecting
    set out on the smooth silver-grey
    of a driftwood shelf.
    She sees rocks and bits of bone.
    “How can you tell?”
    She asks.
    I start to explain about
    percussion bulbs and
    cord wrapped stick design,
    about eras marked by pottery styles
    all layered above the glacial sands.
    She nods patiently.
    “They call to me, mom,”
    I say.
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