Wednesday, June 9, 2010


My dog came through the pinewoods dragging a dead fox-ribs and a spine, and a tail with the fur still on it. Where did you find it? I said to her, and she showed me. And there was the skull, there were the leg bones and the shoulder blades.

I took them home. I scrubbed them and put them on a shelf to look at-the pelvis, and the snowy helmet. Sometimes in the pines, in the starlight an owl hunches in the dense needles, and coughs up his pellet- the vole or the mouse recently eaten. The pellets fall through the branches, through the hair of the grass. Dark flowers of fur, with a salt of bones and teeth, melting away.

In Washington, inside the building of glass and stone, and down the long aisles, and deep inside the drawers, are the bones of women and children, the bones of old warriors. Whole skeletons and parts of skeletons. They can't move. They can't even shiver. Mute, catalogues-they lie in the wide drawers.

So it didn't take long. I could see how it was, and where I was headed. I took what was left of the fox back to the pinewoods and buried it. I don't even remember where. I do remember, though, how I felt. If I had wings I would have opened them. I would have risen from the ground.

Surprised again by Mary this pre-sunrise moment. I would not have thought that a poem entitled "Wings" would hold so much that was not about birds alone, but about all of us. Is there somewhere in facing death the winds that will rise us up on wings of hope? If we face who we are, that we maim and hunt, even our own kind, we can find liberation: here in the morning resurrection, in the burying of bones of the past, in this moment of reconciliation? I cannot undo what I have done yesterday, but I may face who I am today, who we are today, who this earth is, and may, I pray, it only take 3 days and not 2000 + years, or even the centuries span since we invaded the native lands.

Where do you hold close, or not "see how it is" the bones of the past?

1 comment:

  1. From Tee Lee: In first reading of this poem, I noticed the sterile science versus fecund life dichotomy - the cataloguing of the bones, keeping them in boxes, as opposed to letting them go back to real life. But your question raises the important issue of holding on to bones. And just this morning I was saying to myself "WWDS" (what would Dad say), and marveling that 23 years has passed since his death. Well. Somehow that seems enlivening to me, not sterile. Of course, I am not keeping Dad catalogued in boxes, either. At least I don't think so.
    Seems like returning the bones to the earth was freeing to her - but I am not quite following the "wings" image. Oh well.