A Poetry Showcase Award submission
Secrets of the Skeleton
Notice how the sphenoid arches like a butterfly, suspended
Across the cranial vault in graceful flight; It glides
With the subtlest of movements, and the carpals and metacarpals
Curl to meet each other, little diaphragms of cooperation,
The things our hands can do.
Notice the way the pelvic girdle rests like a chalice, how the
Paired bones mirror each other—
How the sutures impress us with their coarseness
While they breathe,—Notice the hyoid bone,
Anchoring above and below, holding us all together.
The vertebrae stacked one on top of the other,
Two perfect scales, the ribs tuning forks,
The spinal membranes: dura, arachnoid, pia,
Threaded like an elaborate, tethered web enshrouding
The spinal cord, all mystery—
The femur producing blood cells, stem cells:
Living tissue strong enough to bear our weight,
The little orchestra of ossicles and tympani orienting
Our place in space, our bodies in time.
Palpate the tension of the fascia
As it winds from bregma to toe,
One continuous and ephemeral manifestation
Of becoming and grace,
These walking temples of bone and water
And ancient memory.