I walk down the beach with my dog quite often now that it is so cold.
As I walk, sometimes I see little stacks of flat stones
piled up like obelisks in the sand.
It makes me think of little baby toys, with plastic rings.
And when I used to work in a daycare.
’d watch the babies, with their chubby little fists,
trying to slide on the smallest ring first
And pouting and waving wildly when it got stuck, there at the top.
Too small, I’d say. Look, too small.
Chubby baby fingers waving, and drool sliding in clumpy thumps down fat baby cheeks.
Tiny stone, you are so small on that alphabet rug.
And so fat and so soft.
Everything about you is round and flaking and milky.
Stones that get caught up in the shallow surf come out hard and glossy and smooth.
They tumble and tumble and wash up on the shore.
And my dog eats them.
He makes eye contact with me as his teeth crunch down,
and his eyes tell me “this is not a treat.”
That’s not a treat, I say. That’s a rock. Yucky. Little guy.
Little tiny thing, little stone.
When we went to pick him up from the puppy nursery, he could sit in the palm of my father’s hand.
He yawned and sniffled and drooled all over the collar of my dad’s shirt.
He’s got a good strong head, the breeder said to us. Just like his father.
She points to the wall, where there is a picture frame. Framed dog.
With ribbons and wax dripping down like sea water on frosted panes.
Oh you big, round, rock. Resounding base. Resounding crash of the waves on the shore.
The rocks stack up, like plastic rings, like the carefully balanced library books as I make my way to the circulation desk, like the days and weeks and months of this mismatched and jumbled year.
It is December again and it was March yesterday.
It is December again, just like it has always been, and just like it will always be.