Audio: Read by the author.
The smallest urn I’ve seen was the size
of my fist. The smallest coffin held
a two-year-old girl and her love-worn
Winnie the Pooh. I looked, kept looking,
because how not to? I’ve forgotten
how to lower my shoulders, how to draw
clean, unbroken breaths from the deep
well of my body, how to unclench
my jaw or else keep cracking my teeth
and tonguing the grit. The smallest
graves I’d see with my eyes closed
but I don’t close them. I’ve forgotten how.
Sleep was a dress I wore threadbare
as a child but grew out of. If there is
a God, is there such a thing
as holy regret for what he’s made?
What he’s—laissez faire—allowed us
to break? As if he’s turned his head,
watching anything but the world. What else
is there to watch, I want to ask.
Maggie Smith’s most recent books are Good Bones (Tupelo) and the forthcoming Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change (One Signal). Her poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in the New York Times, Tin House, Paris Review, The New Yorker, and Poetry.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.