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Symmetries of dilation

Early griefs lay down the shape –

as a baby nautilus creates

    with its first seed-chamber

    the opalescent model

        for its unfolding



Death of a pet turtle. Its small life taken

for granted. But, in the ritual –

    the pastel roses cut from birthday cards

    and pasted on a cardboard box, the hollow

        dug with a spoon from the kitchen drawer –

        sadness swallows us.

We feel again the scrabble of minute claws

against our palm, remember the sideways 

    scoop of stubby legs. In wrapping

    the shallow-domed shell with pink tissue,

        we come to know completely

        that the narrow head will never

emerge again. Remember our delight?

that first time, when we saw the cords

    stretch beneath the pleated skin

    and the miniature jaws



The newer griefs grow larger, but

no different in shape. The great griefs

loom ahead. Their mouths open wider

    and wider, create

    the laminate structure of loss –

    sea creatures building a universe

        of spiralled pearl. Hold that opening

        to your ear and listen

        to the empty


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