We looked hard, but none of us
could remember the exact spot.
Twenty-three years. Things had changed.
Was this boat ramp here, then?
Finally, I said, “Near enough
for government work” (a favorite line
of our dad’s) “The current will
bring them together, anyway.”
We lined up at the river’s edge,
each reaching to lift what a hand
could hold from the sack I held
open like an offering of grain.
After speaking a few words
and casting our small handfuls in, we
wearied of ceremony, poured the rest
out into fast water. “She’ll find him now.”
And to help me remember the moment
I kneeled down to pick up a stone,
as I often do beside the river, choosing
without looking the first that came to hand,
a dull, ordinary stone, gray
and unevenly shaped, but written
there on its surface the unmistakable
curving pattern of long-ago life.
“A fossil!” I exclaimed, and the family
leaned in close to see the repeating
arched lines of an ancient shell
forever frozen into plain stone,
the shape of what’s gone, still
visible in the mark it has made,
in the spaces it has left behind.