February Honorable Mention: Skeleton Woman, By Lissa Sloan
Why do I follow you?
It is more than the tug of your hook in my breastbone
More than the pull of your line
That draws me clackety clacking along behind
As you stumble over the snow
Running for your life
Even my empty sockets can see that there is more to you
More than muscle and sinew that cast your line
More than breath from your bursting lungs
More than blood rushing to your cheek
As you look behind
To see if you have outrun me at last
I may be nothing but bone,
But I feel your callused fingers, gentle now
Untangling the jumble that is me--one bone here, another there
I have no ears to hear
And yet your tender song hums through me
As you free me from this knotted line
I rattle near you as you dream
I have no breath to hold
But frozen beside you I wait
Knowing there is still more to you
I can smell the salt of it
Hot at the corner of your eye
Is that teardrop for me?
Do you grieve for this pile of bones in her ocean grave
And wish she could have life again?
Just as I grieve for your heart that beats alone
And wish that I could warm it
Have courage, my love
Our loneliness is at an end
One taste of that sweet salt tear
And the drumming of your heart
Is all I need
To sing myself into life
No longer only bones
I am flesh and blood and breath like you
And when our two hearts beat as one
You and I will know
Together we are so much more
Author’s note: "Skeleton Woman" is an Inuit tale of a lonely fisherman who accidentally catches a skeleton instead of a fish.
Lissa’s work has appeared in the "Little Red Riding Hood" issue of Enchanted Conversation. She is half English, half American, and is an avid reader and tea drinker.
Altered image originally by Felicien Rops.