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On a Pebbly Beach

 

When our family was young
and the children took off over the stones like little dogs
as we followed in our different conversation
and the game was, to come back with the Best

it struck me that grownups tend to select
those that the sea had spent her centuries of energy
smoothing and buffing
from rock until perfectly formal, the ovoid, the oval

while our youngsters go for the grotesque,
the knobbly ones with fractured faces and funny holes
that can have fingers poked in and out of them
or look like puppies or gulls

and now that I sleep diagonally
and walk alone on this beach
it is truly hard to decide
whose preference was the more mature.

 

John Birtwhistle