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  • Nichole Brazelton

A Room of Her Bones

by Nichole Brazelton.


“it was here that she lay in bed, listening to the birds singing in Greek and imagining that King Edward VII lurked in the azaleas using the foulest possible language. All that summer she was mad.” – Quentin Bell on Virginia Woolf

I’ve been looking at old men – all dead.

Digging through the mud of centuries.

Bioanthropology: people-bones and people-rules.

Study is easier when they cannot speak,

or move or look at me with more than

rotted out sockets. Not as grotesque without

blood gorging – moving them, thrusting them

forward into places they haven’t built, places

where they don’t belong, places where they

have written their names in piss that has

stained the walls for centuries. I’ve been

looking at these man-bones wanting to

figure out their lives, carbon date their politics,

identify their diets of flesh. I want to chronicle

all those marrow-rotted, white-bound secrets

they tried to bury but couldn’t decompose.

And what about the women’s bones?

They are in a different room – a room full

of bookshelves and lists, walls covered in

clocks, painted-on staircases, and windows

that face the river. A room that smells always

like sex and lavender and Sunday dinner.

I do not need to ask those skeletons any questions

because our woman-bones are slipstitched

and purled together. Plaited phalanges,

seamed clavicles, our sternums curved

into aviaries holding birds that have been

singing to us in Greek – the same songs over

and over and over.


Nichole lives in Pennsylvania where she is an adjunct professor of composition and communication. She holds an MA in rhetoric from Duquesne University and an MFA in poetry from New England College. Her most recent poetry can be read in Canary, Sand Hills Literary Magazine, Sisyphus, and Marathon Literary Review.

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