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Contributor Series 7: The Confessional Diary of Bone, Ossuary

01.01.11 Posted in Contributor Series 7, words to linger on by

Contributor Series 7: The Confessional Diary of Bone

By Rae Spencer

Literally, the place of bones
Or the bone box
In which one inters
An ancestor or spouse
Mortal remnants of one still beloved
A year after death
When only bones are left

And I taste such a place on my tongue
Limestone leached from the earth
Into our well, to be sipped
With all its heady ethers
Steeped in my own living flesh

Which likely partakes of earlier flesh
Having passed, perhaps, through Ruffian’s trough
Where she dipped her whiskered lips
Before the race against our Foolish Pleasure
Before the breakdown, before the surgery
Before the groggy waking and furious flail
And final ruin of perfection
Her broken sesamoid rattles
Beneath her dam’s shattered legs
And her sire’s fatal hind limb fracture

My hound’s sweet skull corrals them
Silly Sarah, crushed beneath a tire

And my tiny Yorkie’s ulna
Angel’s spindly leg
Which proved too frail for wooden floors
In her fall from the groomer’s table
Her bone healed, as did Ernest Henry Wilson’s
That botanical collector who walked with a limp
From breaking his leg in a landslide
In China, where he found the royal lily
He splinted the bone with a camera tripod
And carried his flowers away

My grandmother avoided his “lily limp”
Though her ankle ached from the twist
And break, which interrupted her walk to the store
And my father rued one shortened finger
Its last knuckle lost beneath the mower
I’ll introduce this father
Dead in my teenage years
To the father I gained in marriage
By describing Joseph’s rib, swollen
And spiculed with cancer, spread to the spine
Now gone to the soil, to leach
One more into my well

These bones I name
And these beloved I save
Within the limestone box
That forms my palate
I drink of them
And I bathe in them
In the wondrous luxury of having known
That what I speak I get to keep
In my own hard ossuary, my salty place of bones

Rae’s poem What Remains appeared at vox poetica in September as part of Contributor Series 6: A Currency of Words.

2 Responses to “Contributor Series 7: The Confessional Diary of Bone, Ossuary”

  1. Outstanding, Rae. You set a visual that will stay with me for days.

  2. bobbie troy says:


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