Because I love the very bones of you,
and you are somehow rooted in my bone,
I’ll tell you of the seven years

by which the skeleton renews itself,
so that we have the chance to be
a person, now and then, who’s

something other than ourselves;
and how the body, if deficient,
will bleed the calcium it needs –

for heart, for liver, spleen –
from bone, which incidentally,
I might add, is not the thorough

structure that you might
suppose, but living tissue which
the doctors say a woman of my age

should nurture mindfully with fruit,
weightbearing exercise, and supplements
to halt the dangers of a fracture when I’m old;

and because I love you I will also tell
how stripped of skin the papery bone
is worthy of inscription, could hold

a detailed record of a navy or a store of grain,
and how, if it’s preserved
according to the pharoahs,

wrapped in bandages of cocoa leaf, tobacco,
it will survive long after all or books,
and even words are weightless;

and perhaps because the heaviness of your head,
the way I love the slow, sweet sense of you,
the easiness by which you’re stilled,

how the fleshy structures that your skeleton,
your skull maintain, are easily interrogated,
it reminds me how our hands,

clasped for a moment, now, amount
to everything I have; how even your smile
as it breaks me up, has the quality of ice,

the long lines of loneliness
like a lifetime ploughed across a palm,
the permanence of snow.

from Signs Round a Dead Body (Seren, 1998), © Deryn Rees-Jones 1998, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

Deryn Rees-Jones in the Poetry Store

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