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.