Max Porter

Grief is a Thing With Feathers

“I sat alone in the living room wondering what to do. Shuffling around, waiting for shock to give way, waiting for any kind of structured feeling to emerge from the organizational fakery of my days. I felt hung-empty.”

Grief is a Thing With Feathers is a prose poem from English author Max Porter about a crow that moves in with a family following the death of their mother and wife. (It would have to be crow, wouldn’t it?) The crow announces he’s there to stay. He is not, however, nurturing. He’s not “Mom.”

Of course, the crow is grief. That thing greater than ourselves, that thing that takes over. Grief is the tumbling headfirst into abstraction. Nothing makes sense: time, space, names and certainly not life.

Porter’s story is not about finding a substitute, because no one lost can be substituted. It’s about a transcending grief’s abstraction, kicking us back to a sustainable normal.

C.S. Lewis mournfully wondered where the dead go. I explore post-death existence in “Do Things Exist Where They Are Buried?” Death has more questions than answers, maybe we all need a house-guest crow.