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Collected, carefully chosen pebbles line the desk like a miniature strand, reminders and remainders of a harsh shingle beach. Cold Atlantic tides haven't time to fool around or cherish a prize smooth black almost perfect smoke-eye the size of a dime, tossed amid seawrack and sedge, the sinewed grasp of beach peas, lodged in the flotsam and jetsam of far-off rubble. They don't coddle them there. Sand fleas scrounge and flit among fugitive cork floats, barnacled bait pockets, never-say-die bits of plastic, unmeritorious shards of sea glass, nothing distinguished in color. It's all bland, buffeted, coarse. A few singular pebbles divorced from the rabble, manage somehow not to get lost, sift their way upward as tide would have it, out of night sands, jostle, maneuver, push for position, bask for a time in slant summer light.

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