Thursday, January 27, 2011

Light as Lantern Bones When the Candle Flames

So yesterday at lunch Fiona, whose Kid's Lit class sixteen years ago (I know this precisely because Planet sat in Fiona's lap in her office on Planet's second birthday that semester), after I'd a semester of dismal adult Liberal Studies classes the semester before, changed my mind about dropping out of the program, and who has remained a close friend and dear confidant (and whose advocacy helped me secure scholarships in the English Department for the subsequent MA), told me she has bladder cancer, it's metastisized beyond control, she's a year at most to live.

Canary, weathervane, Cassandra, fool, I feel like I've been cheated out of middle age; I played at being young at 49 when my knees didn't ache, I feel like I'm old at 51 now that they do.


Pattiann Rogers

Those are my bones rifted
and curled, knees to chin,
among the rocks on the beach,
my hands splayed beneath my skull
in the mud. Those are my rib
bones resting like white sticks
wracked on the bank, laid down,
delivered, rubbed clean
by river and snow.

Ethereal as seedless weeds
in dim sun and frost, I see
my own bones translucent as locust
husks, light as spider bones,
as filled with light as lantern
bones when the candle flames.
And I see my bones, facile,
willing, rolling and clacking,
reveling like broken shells
among themselves in a tumbling surf.

I recognize them, no other's,
raggedly patterned and wrought,
peeled as a skeleton of sycamore
against gray skies, stiff as a fallen
spruce. I watch them floating
at night, identical lake slivers
flush against the same star bones
drifting in scattered pieces above.

Everything I assemble, all
the constructions I have rendered
are the metal and dust of my locked
and storied bones. My bald cranium
shines blind as the moon.


  1. Sorry to hear the bad news. That topic is on my mind every day now. Men in my family have enjoyed the privilege of dying fairly young. It puts a dark cast on life. There's a lot more iin that dark cast than what one could see in that little dude Gazoo who used to haunt Fred Flintstone. Even when my mind's on productive things, Dark Cast is whispering to me, "time's a ticking...."

  2. Thank you both very much.

    I'm only 75% serious re: cwcf, but I swear, shit has been increasing to me and mine in real life in what seems almost the same proportion as my faith in the progress of human social evolution decreases. There's no cause and effect of course, but sometimes I wish I was as foolishly optimistic as I once was. No fool like an old fool, as it's said.

  3. Let me second the others. Even this third party can see you've been hit with far too much shit of late.

  4. light of your news, DCD's rendition of "the wind that shakes the barley."

    Mournful and reverent.

    Be well.

    Or: take up some of the slack in the back log of the Furies, and punch someone who has it coming.

  5. My condolences to you and your friend, BDR.

    P.S. Thanks for the Robert Scheer link. It's still boggles the mind that the L.A. Times would trade him for Jonah Goldberg.

  6. Thanks Jack, Thunder -

    Jack, you anticipate me - that song tomorrow.

    And all praise to (spooky) serendipity - I had rediscovered my wonderful Dead Can Dance box set this past Saturday looking for my wonderful Cheap Trick box set and have been listening to both since.

  7. Perhaps I can suggest what amounts to Lhasa de Sela's Death Song, kindly?

  8. Sure! Was going to say something at your place when you posted the songs, but blooger seems to have disabled your comments .

    I had never heard of her. Thanks. And damn, another too short life.

  9. Gah, stupidass universal giggle sign was supposed to end first paragraph. The one plus of typepad was the ability to edit posted comments.

  10. That sucks, bdr. My condolences.