Glass Jar

by James Scott Smith, from the collection The Expanse of all Things

After the divorce
and in the throes,
I walked along the beaches
of Southern California
sunset after sunset.
I collected stones
and shells that I have kept
in a hand blown glass jar
I found at a rummage sale,
with air bubble imperfections
as if to suggest
a frailty,
perhaps a looming likelihood of
breaking open at
some point,
though now,
twenty-five years on my shelf,
holding steady
to the end of something,
reminding me
of the beginning of everything.
A shell is one half of an older life.
A stone, a fragment of an older earth,
washed over smooth,
silent and waiting.
A glass jar,
like a memory of experience,
a mere form in which to hold
the artifacts of history,
once living, now

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James Scott Smith

James Scott Smith


Over the course of his life, James Scott Smith has lived in Michigan, Massachusetts, Kansas, California and for the last 23 years, Colorado. He studied psychology and religion while beginning his work as a psychotherapist, a wilderness guide, and a spiritual leader. He went on to create and lead a system of learning organizations designed to deliver holistic, experiential intervention in traditional and alternative settings. Breaking from his formal career in 2006, James enjoys his family and home life, the Colorado backcountry, his dogs, photography and writing.