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  • I walked the beach
    head down against a raw and blustery wind
    through the mist’s lacy curtain

    By the breakwater
    an old man leaned against a post,
    his hood cloaked him in a faux fur trimmed shadow.
    Staring out to sea
    or somewhere past the vodka and coke in his glass,
    he was halfway to another refill
    from the bottles in the plastic bag at his feet.

    I scanned the tumbled, sea-washed wrack along the shore.
    Picking one here, one there to keep and carry,
    a stone with curved lines in grey and black and gold,
    half a black barnacle’s ascending layers,
    and then,
    out of the mud
    among all the other pebbles, shells and stones
    a line caught my eye.
    I knew
    before I washed the gray and clinging clay away,
    before I named it,
    knew from the edge poking out,
    a tooth.

    As big as my two thumbs side by side.
    Black with age.
    From an age when these shores were far from any sea.
    From an age when great mammals grazed and roamed.
    A fragment from a larger whole,
    maybe 15,000 years,
    maybe a million or two,

    I imagined walking back past the old man,
    now on drink 4 or 5,
    showing him the tooth
    like a token or a sign,
    but by the time I reached the breakwater
    the rain was sheeting down and he was gone.
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