The Shape of Grief
by Claire Scott
                  “Grief ‘s addictive, it will hitch a ride on anything.”
                                    Linda Gregerson, “Elegant” in Prodigal

A lost package, a missed train,
a sock without a mate, the last light of summer
grief is greedy

snatching everything in sight
like a magnet sucking iron filings
or the pull of a neutron star

even burnt lima beans bring tears
the acrid stench on Sundays
cook’s day off

when my mother attempted dinner
actually got out of bed, actually did
get out of bed, after us girls came home

from church, wearing our too-tight taffeta dresses
and ill-tempered faces
looking like a pair of petulant tulips

I see now she tried
despite her depression
her suicidal flirtations, just once a week

she actually tried (dinner and suicide)
and we all complained, still wearing our
ill-fitting dresses, jabbing each other

under the table, while our father sat silent
as a noon bat, pretending not to notice
the bad behavior and the burnt lima beans

I have tried to catch grief, wrestle it to the ground
and say look enough already
but grief has a long head start

no way to catch his heels
fling him aside like peanut shells at the ballpark
grief has become almost a religion

a holy grail to pay homage to each day
a wilted rose, a wine stain, a broken window
and like a faithful follower, I feel the hot hand

of grief tracing fingers on my spine, I hear
the summons of hymns
the smooth syllables of seduction
my knees bend


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