To carry something fragile—a vole

skull, for example, or the thin,

ridged shell of a paper nautilus—make

a cage of yourself, curl fingers stiff

around a space you could close


to a fist. And at first it’s easy. But you fear

your scattered mind: Careful care

ful careful careful each footfall. You worry

about the little gap where your

smallest finger touches


your healthline. The short walk home

stretches long. Try a few positions

of the arm—ahead, elbow dug

into waist, palm cupped up; ulna tight

across diaphragm or ovary; radius

tucked below the hip’s wing. It’s not


easy, though nothing is heavy. Your hand

sweats and cramps and one part of you longs

to just let it go. But you picked it up. You’ve

carried it this far, this thing. And now


it must be held until you find a safe place

—desk, car, sill by the door—

to put it down.