lone figure on a beach, just before Christmas

you stoop, 
feeling the cold in your knees.
you are old.
you may not have many winters left.
you are examining something,
something far older than you are.

you peer at it
turning it over
in your hand
in your mind
still for a minute
unmoved by the wind.

your gaze shifts
you’re not looking at it anymore
you’re looking through it,
through all the stones on this beach,
through the centre of the Earth
and out the other side into nothing
clawing back memories breeding memories
as if by picking up one stone
you’ve revealed another
then another
a whole beach of associations
stretching back to the beginning of time.

you face the sea, 
and now throw
as far as it will go.

you’ve turned away
before it lands
with a tiny crown of salt-water.