I have always collected pebbles. Gravel lures me: a fan of scree in a gorge or a bag of river rock at the garden center—it doesn’t matter. I want to pour my attention over all of it, in search of—what? Simple oddity, mostly. Pebbles with holes through them, stones vaguely testicular, with veins of color translucently visible. Faces, marbles, snails—and once, a capital “A” of pale chert, as plump and exact as a letter in a bowl of alphabet soup.
When I bend to look, I think, “I’ll know it when I see it.” But hindsight shows a shaped unknown: a pantomime of desires I didn’t know I had. Why, for instance, am I drawn to the accidentally representational? As in a four-legged dog-like creature carved by nothing but water, cold , and geologic shift.
A lulling coincidence: something that can know nothing of me makes the forms I know. In an infinity of gravel—a gravel vast as grains of sand upon a beach—there must be a shape that matches any I might imagine. But this thought troubles me; the intuition it requires doesn’t seem to reach as far as it must. Is this apprehension a feature of the notion of infinity, or does it point to an over-eager view of imagination and its limits? Perhaps there is a pebble that holds a scene from Hamlet. Or perhaps I would like to think that the aggregate dust I will become may still be me.