What the Bone Knows

How to hold the marrow in, tight.
Tonight, everyone needs as many
blood cells as they can get.
Tomorrow is another matter entirely.
Medulla ossium rubra.
It’s spelled on every sheet. Even the tongue
against the depression doesn’t know how to say it.

Two hundred and six. And every one has a name.
And every one can be broken.
Green, spiral, buckle, stress, simple, compound, open.
These are words that mean beautiful things.
Or the way you fall down the stairs, get bucked off a horse,
slammed to the wall, slip in the shower.
Or the way poison leaches, drop by drop,
into pitted nothing.

Life is treacherous.
You think inside will keep you safe?
The skin is tiny. An envelope
arriving empty is still an envelope
arriving empty.

When the bone goes, when the knees no longer
stand at the side of the hole, when the hand
can’t throw the dirt, when the shovel hits the
mud and every
thrums your name.

No one comes to sit shiva.
No one turns the mirrors to the wall.
No one wails to the gods of your passing.
They take you out back and shoot you.
Carve you a new name.
Wait for the dirt to cover you and claim you.

Listen: Ossify yourself.
It’s the only way to live.



I received this beautiful hand-carved bone letter opener today in the mail, a gift that was inspired by The Forgetting Arts, an earlier poem.

This entry was published on February 16, 2012 at 9:51 pm and is filed under February, Poems, Seattle, Self-Portraits. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “[47]

  1. That work will be truly calcified into the compact bone of our literature, changed only by the cruel action of the osteoclast of editing upon your matrix of creativity!

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