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We used to overturn rocks on the shore
and expose them to the belly of the sun.
I knew that some rocks should not be moved
but you picked them up to skip pebbles
and slice fountains in the sea
where they were lost
and you were satisfied
because yours had skipped the farthest
and the deepest
while mine grew steam in my palm.

Your hand in mine was sandpaper.
When you closed your fingers I was a bottled neck
with no wings flapping but the heartbeat
of one chipped stone against another.

In the ocean your rosary curls the foam
and the stones fly all in pieces.
As the seaweed entwines your fingers, I wonder
if you walked alone as you promised
and if the water sipped your lips.

Under the blankets, my feet are wet.
In the moonlight footprints pause on the shore
as if, in leaping, you turned.  I imagine you found comfort
in the smaller hand that clung to yours,
in the transparent, almost unreal dress
that floated above her hair
then gave way, flattening against her legs
when you pushed her back.

Robin Dawn Hudechek

(First published in Blue Arc West: An Anthology
of California Poets
by Tebot Bach,
and in Ghost Walk, a chapbook)