The stream that ran behind the mental hospital
just under the wooded bluff had pieces
of smooth colored glass in it, in one place
near the bank, for a few weeks in the late 50s.
We wrapped them in a handkerchief
and came back for the rest with a cardboard box.
There were still a few left and on the third
return there were more than we remembered
as leaving. We didn't know how they'd gotten
into the same small depression and we didn't know
they were worthless -- that would come later --
and that we might have argued about any of this
now seems inevitable, but it didn't have to be so.
We were only acting on the information -- the intelligence --
we had, and the source was unimpeachable: the current
played over the various colors; throw in sunlight
and shadows of minnows tinted by reflection,
hard satin surfaces, and they were as much of a jewel
as we'd ever imagine or own. One of us came alone
and after pulling back long weeds pressed down
over the edge to hide the shallow, discovered it empty.
They were never there again, not even one,
although we sometimes returned and on hands and knees
searched a small radius of silt and roadside garbage,
expanding the search until our voices were lost
to each other, upstream.