During my run this morning, I came across a dead seal rolled onto the beach by the waves. I touched it, to see if it was yet warm. But it was cool and slightly bloated. I recognized the opportunity to learn more about this animal, one I had never encountered this closely before.

I spread its front flippers and counted the fingers contained within the webbing. Five, just like mine, with what I believe are the same number of joints. Its rear flippers have toe nails. Not flat like ours, but tubular like a dog. Some just barely pressing through the skin, others nearly an inch in length.

The wave came in and rolled the seal higher than lower on the beach again. The seal was presented anew.

I bent the fingers at each joint, making a fist the size of my own. I was amazed at the similarities, the distance between knuckles nearly identical on the lower digits. Thin, strong bones suspended in a cape of black felt, cool to the touch in this inanimate form.

So very familiar. I half expected a small man to jump out from the suit.

The nose is so much like the snout of a dog, with stiff whiskers and familiar teeth. Large eyes left open when the life no longer occupied this creature, alone on the beach.