When you are grieving, sweep the porch.

Sweep the walk.

Shake the mat.


Flick chips of bark.

Sweep sand.

Gather gravel (from the driveway, where there are no cars now, except yours).


Sweeping slows time.


See what has gathered at your feet:

flower petals, leaves, seeds, husks,

and one black feather.


These will make a good nest for your sorrow.


See each item as it was in life

and as it is now. A curved rind

of snail shell rocks to its edge.


Backlit striations catch the sun

just so

as the empty spiral tilts toward the light.

The hermit crab of your heart

tries it on for size

and it fits.


(Oh!) such shelter under this smooth arc,

safe in its miniscule lee,

waiting for rain.


In time the homeless heart

extends itself again

beyond the shell’s chipped ridges.



it flows over uneven terrain:


here sharp,

here pocked,

here smooth;


feelers waving

in the soft, inexplicable air.


Anastasia Smith