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.
Pattiann Rogers - 1940-
Counting What the Cactus Contains
Elf owl, cactus wren, fruit flies incubating In the only womb they'll ever recognize. Shadow for the sand rat, spines And barbary ribs clenched with green wax. Seven thousand thorns, each a water slide, A wooden tongue licking the air dry. Inside, early morning mist captured intact, The taste of drizzle sucked And sunsplit. Whistle Of the red-tailed hawk at midnight, rush Of the leaf-nosed bat, the soft slip Of fog easing through sand held in tandem. Counting, the vertigo of its attitudes Across the evening; in the wood of its latticed bones-- The eye sockets of every saint of thirst; In the gullet of each night-blooming flower--the crucifix Of the arid. In its core, a monastery of cells, a brotherhood Of electrons, a column of expanding darkness Where matter migrates and sparks whorl, And travel has no direction, where distance Bends backward over itself and the ascension Of Venus, the stability of Polaris, are crucial. The cactus, containing Whatever can be said to be there, Plus the measurable tremble of its association With all those who have been counting.