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Image by Ashleigh Joy
On our first visit to the beach, you wade out to chest deep water,
looking down, searching. Bending again and again,
you are an archaeologist, bringing up fossils in stone,
explaining (though I knew) fossils are made when mud hardens
around an impression in mud, or specific minerals collect
to replace buried flesh. You carried a multitude in your hand,
showed them to me, naming each type: petrified, molded,
trace footprints, and carbon film.
On our last visit to the beach, you hand me a round flat stone,
saying it’s a drink coaster, causing me to hunt for its partner.
That time, I collected pebbles, a series of fossils
from the Quaternary, Tertiary, and Cretaceous Periods.
That was just before you left. I carried them back to the house
in a paper cup that sits on my desk now. I’ve never looked at
stones the way I do since you taught me to see ancient life
mineralised, as fossils are.
Now those stones take me back to beach, causing me
to wonder about the impressions you have left behind,
the way the space that held your body now remains empty.
Our interactions through email, text, and phone calls are
frustrating, different from those we have one on one.
Away from me, the emptiness is filled by your voice
alone, and you are the only one talking.
Canadian author Sharon Berg has published in Canada, USA, Mexico, England, Wales, The Netherlands, India, Singapore, and Australia. Her poetry is: To a Young Horse (Borealis 1979); The Body Labyrinth (Coach House 1984); and her 3rd poetry book, Stars in the Junkyard (Cyberwit 2020), was an International Book Award Finalist. Her short fiction, Naming the Shadows, is with Porcupine’s Quill (2019) and her nonfiction, The Name Unspoken: Wandering Spirit Survival School (Big Pond Rumours Press 2019) won a 2020 IPPY Award for regional nonfiction. She writes interviews and book reviews and operates Oceanview Writers Retreat from Charlottetown, Newfoundland.