Skipping Stones with my Father

by Dennis Nurkse

Dennis Nurkse


We stand side by side facing the Baltic.
He picks a flat stone and says: one.
I say: I didn’t see. He shouts: six.
I answer: I wasn’t looking.

A child, I throw too fiercely
into the face of each wave.

As if at the toll to a unknown country,
I intuit the delicate ball-socket
in my cringing shoulder.

I feel the smallness of my loneliness.

Poised along the horizon, awkward
as circus dogs on a tightrope,
trawlers to Karelia and the White Sea.


Now I walk stiff-legged
on the opposite beach.

The perfect stone, wafer-thin,
mica-flecked, beveled,
but I won’t palm it.

Let it lie among strangers
where the sea left it.

Last updated December 21, 2022