A 10-year old boy finds a stick on a field trip to the beach

“It remind me of a
rabbit’s ears!
No, a stretched out
letter z.
No, a crank handle
for an ice cream maker.
No, no wait it’s a telephone!”

He talk fast
as he draws a picture of the
stick he found,
writes down everything
it reminds him of.

Then he holds the stick
above his head,
jumps up and down,
and watches the ocean
waves hiss over the
flat shoulders of the sand.

When it is time to leave,
he digs a hole
and buries the stick there.

After flattening the sand
he looks up at me and
“I’m going to come back
and find this stick again
and then I will feel exactly like I do now —
so happy.”

As we walk away,
bouncing at my elbow,
he whispers,
“Do you think it will be the same,
when I come back?”

And I think about
about all the time I have
buried a part of myself
in hopes that I could come back
to find it unchanged, intact, whole —
tired to build a glass museum case
around a feeling that once sat in my ribcage,
or wove itself through my hair.

We look out across the bluffs.
A gull drops a feather,
and flies on.

Originally published in What We Were Born For.

Photo by Steven Van Elk.