By Harriet Brown b. 1958 Harriet Brown
I found it in the wash, the orange
shell I picked up on the beach
that last time. One of my girls—
the one named after you—

must have found it in my room
and wanted it. Clean calcareous
curve, a palm open to nothing,
reeking of sunshine

and your death. For years
I didn't know what to do with it.
You would have liked
this story: how a child

slips grief into a careless pocket.
Breaks it to pieces. Lets it go.

Source: Poetry (March 2003).


This poem originally appeared in the March 2003 issue of Poetry magazine

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March 2003


Writer and journalist Harriet Brown earned an AB from Lafayette College and an MFA from Brooklyn College. She is the author of the poetry chapbook The Promised Land (2004).
Her nonfiction books include The Good-Bye Window: A Year in the Life of a Day-Care Center (2005) and Brave Girl Eating: A Family’s Struggle with Anorexia (2010). She has edited the collections Mr. Wrong: Real-Life Stories about the Men We Used to Love . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Family & Ancestors, Relationships, Living, Sorrow & Grieving, Death

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Sonnet, Metaphor

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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