Poetry Friday: “A Green Crab’s Shell”

As I child, I loved to collect shells on family trips to the beach. Walking along the shore, I added smooth stones, shards of sea glass, even crab parts to my bucket. A diverse assortment of seaside treasures. Inevitably, the crab shells and legs and claws I found so fascinating would begin to stink in the warm car on the ride home. However beautiful they were, their smell betrayed them. These weren’t just beach detritus. They were parts of something dead.

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

I don’t believe in looking for the silver lining in someone’s death. Death always is and will be tragic. It doesn’t help anyone, the griever or the onlooker, to sugar coat or gloss over the horror and sorrow of loss. However, I do believe that beauty can be found in the midst of death. In the marvel of the universe, one does not cancel the other out. That’s why I love the image Mark Doty paints of the crab shell. The shell that represents death also reveals beauty.

I have come to believe that the persistent search for beauty in the face of death is what keeps life from becoming hopeless. For those who grieve, beauty and death live in tension with one another. Not forever, but until that day when, as Dostoevsky writes, “Beauty will save the world.”

A Green Crab’s Shell

Mark Doty

Not, exactly, green:
closer to bronze
preserved in kind brine,

something retrieved
from a Greco-Roman wreck,
patinated and oddly

muscular. We cannot
know what his fantastic
legs were like—
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Published by Clarissa Moll

Discovering grace in grief

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