The Bone Man

17 Jun 2013

Iman Byfield
 
after “Cricket Cage” by Charles LeDray

 

His business is the bow

and bend of femur, clavicle

 

and pelvis, rounded patella

single rib fingered like a cigarette

 

pressed to his cleft as he considers

the ridged top of the mandible

 

an unhinged phalange.

Only he can finesse the work

 

of sculpting trinkets from bone

carve a beveled edge, a cabriole leg

 

handle the cranium like

a grandmother’s baubles.

 

(There is only one way

to get the meat out of an oxtail:

 

burrow your tongue into the porous

crevasse, suck the sapid marrow

 

from the bone, pick the stubborn

meat with your fingers

 

hold the cleaned remains between

your lips and make it whistle)

 

I will prepare the bones for you

strip away the soft flesh

 

pull the stubborn pith with my hands

rescue the teeth from the drain

 

fill the cracks with glue and wrap

them in tissue paper like a gift.

 

I will tell the family “your son

will be a tiny chest, just big enough

 

to hold a first tooth; I will carve

small spells into the under

 

side of the sternum before it becomes

a door through which no one can pass.”

 


Photo credit: Marion Doss

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