These Old Bones


Skeleton DanceThese old bones;
You wouldn’t think they’d cut a rug
dance between the rain drops but
once I could.
Once I did.
Danced to the music,
lover in hand,
that time in the park when we didn’t care
laughing in the face of the storm.
The rain, the wind, splashing in the grass.
The music was all in our heads, our breath, our hearts
beat with the tunes we sang inside.

I remember every line, every lyric.

These old bones
knew music.
These old bones knew
the hotcha rhythm of the dance.

You wouldn’t think them spry enough,
not today.
But once they raced the wind.
Lightning bugs in my pants.
Legs pumped like pistons, flailing bicycle pedals,
racing friends along the sidewalks
careening, chasing our imagination.
Look, no hands, circles round you, I’m a race car, I’m an airplane, jet propelled, look at me.
Fearless, made of rubber.
Down the tracks, by the creek, skidding into gravel driveways.
Friends laughing, falling, rising to challenge again,
scraped knees, elbows, didn’t care.

These old bones knew
the races of youth,
the summer joys of childhood.
No more teachers, no more books,
just these bones, and friends,
and laughter.

You can’t see them now, twisting, writhing
in the heat of passion,
but they did.
Love entwined, an ivy of flesh. Snakelike, friction skin on skin.
Bodies slick with sweat.
Not the mottled alligator skin of now, but silky,
smooth and sweet;
the salt-sweet taste of kisses
and the breathy murmurations of birdlike gasps. The little deaths, the
hot breath in the crook of the neck, the naked, enfolded sleep and
the soft warmth of morning after.

These old bones knew
love, gritty and grasping,
gentle and soft,
squirming and panting and laughing and crying.
The beating hearts, the damp sheets.
To beat, to throb,
to shiver as if to die and live again.

No, you can’t see them now.
Unseen behind the spindly sticks that
serve as limbs.
Limbs that once filled the trousers, filled the shirt.
Not these frail twigs.
Strong bones, lively bones,
once upon a time.

Those bones past, those fleshed calcium monuments of life and love
that strode the world. They’re
not seen against this white silhouette of old hair and creased face
that stare back at me, the stranger from the mirror.

Who are you? Where have you hidden my youth?

These old bones;
a picket fence, primly hiding the past, the bones of yesteryear unseen.
Hiding the days of running, laughing, loving, longing from the cynical glances of now’s youth.
What do they see?
Those children racing past, those young lovers hand in hand, the young, all their lives still ahead, their bones still straight and strong.
What do they see?
Old birch trunks, our bark peeling, silver and dry.

My love and I amble on,
take our time.
They run past us, ride into the summer, oblivious, laughing.
Like we once did. I squeeze her hand and
she replies.

We are invisible.
But these old bones…
Once were oaks.
Like yours.

These old bones once loved
and sang
and danced
and carried the world about, held high, erect,
challenging the very sun in the bright, endless summer of our lives.
Now they sit and rest, warmed under blankets, huddled against creeping winter,
yellowed leaves of age and autumn propped up by memories
now just a quiet lap for a patient cat, dreaming asleep.

But now and then…
now and then
they still tap to the unheard sound
of the music within.
And remember when
they weren’t so ancient.
These old bones recall
the lively dance of life.
The cat miaows a soft complaint but
these old bones ignore her.

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One comment

  1. One of the poems I’ve been working on recently. Trying new forms, experimenting with poetry. I used to write poetry, many years ago, but sometime in the mid-1970s, I stopped. I still have a few pieces in my old notebooks from that era. One day I’ll dig them up and see if they can be resurrected in some new manner.

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