By Kelli Russell Agodon
Previously published in Small Knots (Cherry Grove Collections, 2004)
When we look at the teeth
we guess coyote, not dog.
And this? The shoulder blade of a seal,
or perhaps, a river otter.
There is a bone on every windowsill.
What about this? A cat? A skunk?
I see part of a jawbone in the white
curve she holds in her palm,
the spine of a raccoon.
And when we line them up,
this white alphabet of what is left,
a new species is born across the table.
I mention the cow skull I found
on a Mexican highway,
how I brought it back
to my apartment, dropped it
in a bucket of bleach,
only to watch black legs emerge,
the widow exiting an eye socket.
Even now, I can’t think of bone
without remembering the spider,
how the living always make room
in the spaces the dead leave behind.