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Rocks

The Collector

She stalks on silent feet,
her knees strumming reeds
like lyre strings,
to where the sand and water meet
and picks through flowers and weeds
and insect wings.

Small steps—reverent, searching—
then a solemn bow,
hunched, eyes to ground.
Not with humble offering—
no guilt is etched in her brow,
no conscience bound.

No religious rapture
draws her to the shore,
but pressing need
to scan the stones and capture
pieces of the earth before
they’re lost indeed.

She rises, steps a pace,
then bows low once more
to seek her prey.
She runs a leisurely race,
slowly ransacks nature’s store—
gathers today.

She fills her bag with stones
clicking into place—
rock upon rock—
flicking sand, skirting the bones
of the catfish left as waste
down by the dock.

Not aching for the one
that might inhabit
the empty square
in the cabinet, or stun
guests, compel them to grab it
and demand, “Where?”

She chooses those that please
her eye and her hand,
both dull and bright.
Underwater, in the breeze,
stones worn smooth by scouring sand
now come to light.

She has no need of them
and they none of her
and yet she goes
each summer to look for gems
before they’re buried under
the winter snows.