Wednesday, April 17, 2019

GloPoWriMo Day 17: The Bones Speak

Write a poem that presents a scene from an unusual point of view. 

I decided I'd just start with Day 17, and catch up with my remaining three missing days along the way so I would feel a lot less stressed out. Sharon Olds happens to be one of my favourite poets, and while I love her featured poem, there is one I love even more: The Pact. It bristles with tension and darkness and a foreboding sense of disaster, even horror.

A few years ago I was privileged to take a introductory course in Forensic Anthropology with the amazing Dr. Sue Black, and one of the things that stays vividly in memory is just how much is written on the bones of the dead, despite all efforts by killers and murderers to hide the traces. I used that as a jumping-off point for today's prompt. It's not entirely satisfactory,'s written at least!


She always wore long sleeves 
On the hottest of days.
Nothing to see here, she always said
Don't worry. I'm fine.

The X-rays tell a different tale:
Of old fractures, of injuries
Hidden beneath layers of flesh and fear.

Stripped of skin, defleshed to mere skeleton
Her life lays bare on a cold metal slab
Exposed like dead-white maggots
Fat, wriggling, reluctantly pulled out
From hollow eye sockets full of hell.

A chip here. A groove there.
Violence records itself in bone.
We can be read by those
Who decipher death
Who study the language of cruelty.
We do not give up our secrets easily.

Nothing to see here, she always said
We know
We know
The bones always know.


Sunita said...

Strong and powerful. I was relating the poem to domestic violence and how many women have these hidden and broken marks.

Jane Dougherty said...

The bones don't lie. I like this one. Not morbid, it just takes violence to a different metaphysical level. The idea of the evidence lingering in the bones is a great one, like blood screaming out. Shakespearean :)

Shuku said...

Sunita: Thank you so much! Yes - yes that was what was in my mind too. It's always covered up somehow, by okays and I'm fines.

Jane: Thank you! It really does's astonishing. The bones don't lie.

Merril D. Smith said...

I like this, too. I think it's more sad than morbid. The poor woman who kept this secret--but it is revealed in the bones.
I like the idea of them "speaking," but someone has to learn their language.

Shuku said...

Thank you so much Merril! Yes, that was something I kept thinking about when I was doing that forensics class. Bones speak a very distinct and unique language. It's all there, if only we know how to read the signs.

Smitha said...

I was a little apprehensive to open up the link when I read the words ' violent' and 'morbid' but I'm glad I mustered the courage. This is a great take on the prompt. And it's just very sad. Beautiful poem.

Kerfe said...

What lies beneath the mask...often never revealed in life in so many ways. This is a wonderful rendering through the images of the most permanent of what we leave behind. said...

a grizzly light to read by
this poem cuts to the bone
well done, Shuku

The Bizza said...

The depth of this grim, unblinking tale is as unsettling as it is impressive. Strong work.

LA West said...

Shuku, This is a fascinating topic. The bones, our internal recording mechanism - a tachograph of sorts. Like the poem a lot - thought provoking. Will carry this idea in my head for quite some time.