holy stones

I was busy on the beach
balancing a line of pebbles
along a stick of driftwood
to photograph for Instagram
when he came over
a tall man in a white shirt
camera on one shoulder
career on the other
‘What do you think,’ he said
‘about all the holes in these rocks?’
I stood up
‘Hmm,’ I said ‘I don’t know much about it
but back in the Sussex chalk
there are molluscs that burrow
and leave holes like that’
‘Too hard’ he said
‘I think it’s gas bubbles
from the time of the volcano’
‘Hmm’ I said ‘you could be right’

We both looked out to sea

‘I saw a porpoise in Cornwall’ I said
‘Or thought I did.
Turns out it was a triathlete’

‘Igneous, sedimentary and…’ he said
then repeated the words quietly to himself
‘Hmm’ I said, ‘I can’t remember…’
‘Metamorphic!’ he said
‘When one thing gets changed into another’
‘That’s it!’ I said. ‘Of course!’
‘I lived in Sussex,’ he said
‘Sometimes you’d find flint
with crystals inside.’

We stood there
side by side on the sunny beach
two middle aged men
one short, one tall
both in hats
both on holiday

‘My son is off doing his own thing,’ he said
‘He gets annoyed with me
You don’t have to take a picture of every last thing he said
But at least I don’t post them on Instagram
Some people take pictures of their food
before they eat it
Can you believe it?
I’m not as bad as that.’
‘That’s true,’ I said. ‘Documenting their lives’
‘My son says just LIVE your life.’
‘He sounds good,’ I say. ‘Balanced.’
‘Yes,’ says the man. ‘I think he is.’

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