after William Carlos Williams’ “Between Walls”


That spring, I’d drive fast along the back 

roads up to the lake and walk barefoot over the wings

of scattered shells. The bodies of the


brittle butterflies crunched under my feet. At the hospital 

my mother bent over bedsides where

patients gasped, skin sucked against their ribs. Nothing


helped. Even the ones who survived will 

bear the lifelong marks: scars will grow 

into smudges on X-rays, cloudy like the glass shards that lie 


along the lakeshore. I’d sit on the cinders

stacked beside the Lake Ontario waves in which 

all sharp-edged fragments get ground to a soft shine.


I found them in a coat pocket the other day: a broken

half of a shell that sliced against my fingers and the pieces 

I gathered, months ago, of a green



By Claire Buck

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