The Shape of Grief, Claire Scott

Charles Hood, Tributaries



               “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, while we complained
still wearing our ill-fitting dresses,
jabbing each other under the table.

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 become almost a religion 

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.

Claire Scott

Scroll to Top