and my red bones pinned
on the scaffolding
of a ghost white spinal column -

and my skull black eyes
owling out into the night,
my arms, reaching for milky stars
in the shadows -

and the bird I found that day,
cormorant black on the beach,
wings still feathered -

and red-sand bones,
slender vertebrae bleaching
toward the delicate head,
sharp-prong beak,
gaped at the open sky -

and that harbor seal,
a little further down,
carcass ballooning in the wrack line,
turning black leather
beneath salt and seagull runes -

and its decapitated head
tumbled up with each tide,
skin stripped and eyes,
eyes washed pure -

and nostrils, jawbone,
tendril scrolls of worm-path -

and teeth,
wandering off one by one,
to start new lives
among snails,
and broken shells.


Bony Palate
from Henry Gray (1825–1861).Anatomy of the Human Body.

Copyright 2012, Janet Barry

Janet Barry is a musician and poet, with works published or forthcoming in a number of journals and anthologies including Ragged-Sky, Off-the-Coast, Cider Press Review, Rock + Sling, and the Christian Science Monitor. She serves as judge yearly for Poetry Out Loud, and received a Pushcart Nomination for her poem “Winter Barn.” Janet holds a degree in organ performance and an MFA in poetry.

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