In the long dark deprecating morning, mourning the sad wrinkles of it, the hands wringing time like an aging fricatrice, porthole open, wind blowing through it, rattling bones, bones rattling toward doom, and she was afraid they would break, the long bones, the short ones, the femur, tibia, fibula, broken like promises, like dreams, and there was the wish-bone of the chicken, and Grandpa said if she held it up after she’d nibbled the meat off, it would snap in two, and she couldn’t remember if it was the long end of the bone that meant her wish would come true, or the short end she held in her hand, her bony hand holding to what never made any never-mind to start with, and it was in the dark before day, the long dark waiting morning, mourning the loss, and the clock’s broken hands.
It is not possible to pick it up like a feather fallen to the ground, pick it up like a penny, heads up, or tails, pick it up like a foul rag in the bone-shop of the heart and toss it in the garbage, or even to pick it out of a bin, the one rotten apple, pick it out of the stack of papers, the signature missing, to pick it like a peck of pickled peppers, a pick-ax, one end of the head pointed and the other end with the chisel edge ready to cut through roots; hey na na na na na na na, na pick up, pick up, pick up the pieces, pick the meat from the bones, pick the lock, the fruit from the vine, the potatoes from the field; is it not possible to pick the right crowd or handpick the right person picking the chaff from the wheat?
Sue Brannan Walker, Poet Laureate of Alabama and the Stokes Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at the University of South Alabama, has nine published books of poetry. She is completing a critical book on James Dickey for Mellen Press. contact
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