by Veronica Blascoe
Consider the skeleton.
Not considered often, to be true-
paint hides a home’s foundation, and the attic conceals the rafters.
But peel up the floorboards and look anyway.
Begin at the skull, which the unwary might view as one strong bone,
and look closer,
where sutures formed years after birth clumsily knit occipital to parietal,
where the great wing of the sphenoid curves into the lachrymal bone,
close to the empty cave that shelters the eye;
where the proud arches of the zygomata join above the grinning teeth.
Bump over the hyoid to the vertebrae,
aligned like smooth book-spines on a library shelf.
First the fortunate cervical, small and neat where they cradle the head,
then the somber jury of the thoracic, which bears the weight of the ribs-
twelve each, notched and roughened where veins and muscles hold tight,
the cage a hallow cathedral, every bone arched and flared like a flying buttress,
laminae overlapping like roof tiles, round foramen like stained-glass windows.
The lumbar are five ivory rings,
unanchored, but moveable as the mountains,
surface pitted with holes where meat and blood and nerve can tunnel away.
Beneath, the variable coccygeal, three or four or five;
half formed, like an afterthought,
river rocks worn smooth by the years.
Drift back up to find the girdled shoulder
-the wings of the scapulae, the bars of the clavicles-
then down again, humerus and radius and ulna;
the glorious joint of the wrist, gliding and condyloid together,
carpals and metacarpals and the thumb the crowning glory:
two phalanges instead of three,
little nodules of the sesamoid bones
like a pair of twin guard dogs at the base.
Widen your search to the naked cradle of the pelvis,
notched and cratered and empty as the moon;
the subcutaneous sickle-curve of the iliac crest,
the three gluteal lines where attach muscles that can lift a car;
the sockets of the fossa acetabuli, ground down inside by the ball of the hip.
Find the femur, longest of bones-
find the tibia, sheltering the thinner fibula in its shadow-
find the broad calcaneum, the three smooth cuneiforms-
find every delicate bone of the tarsus,
and together let them carry you home.