Bone-Song

by Laurie Byro
Desert Moon Review
Third Place, July 2010
Judged by Ruth Ellen Kocher


My mother’s bones served a purpose. Grounded
by all that brittle history, a desert coyote’s need
to lie down among sage, to strike a flinty spark,

a lather-talk inside a kettle of blue. Sand, grass,
flower-sky. An interesting canvas, or so we’ve been
taught. A veiny handed hag sleeps out with young

boys. Strange ghost-tumbleweeds rifle through
her thoughts. Father, she threatens rain. A scorpion
retracts its tail to sting. I don’t remember puppy dogs

or snakes. There is salt left behind on a varnished
gin-mill counter, pretzels twisted like my poor
old man’s back. There is a glinty fang-moon howling

through the desert night. A father’s hand, veined
like that, holds up a turtle knowing nothing can beat
the day out of him, not a tire’s wheel, not the sun

that’s burned clear through to his belly. Silently
we hunker down to drag their bones away. Silently,
they beg us to stay, sing our feeble praises.


Bone-Song" utilizes an interesting conflation of lyric narrative with a disrupted narrative. The transformation of the concrete subject of the title immediately transcends the reader's expectation of an uninterrupted trajectory of image, story, song, or subject. The writer especially navigates the use of contiguous relationships at the end of the poem with great skill, drawing the reader into an ending that arrives through implication rather than assertion. The poems resonates most in these last lines as the poem showcases an adept understanding of lyric subtlety. --Ruth Ellen Kocher

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