March 30, 2012

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.


caroline yu said...

I saw a TV special about this fairy tale. Your rendition is captivating.

Ruth Sokol said...

The imagery in this piece was captivating, the images stayed imprinted in my head while I read through the lines. While reading, I thought the story was about the love between a couple with one partner slipping away into death and how their love is powerful enough to heal the darkness of death. Until I read what the fairy tale is really about, a lonely fisherman who catches a skeleton, it still didn’t alter the beauty I see in this story. A line that I read multiple times was, “Even my empty sockets can see that there is more to you”. Everyone has felt as this lonely fisherman has, he seems to connect and fall in love with something that is dead. He is searching for the love in his life and can’t seem to find it, even in himself. This story is quite uplifting, finding happiness and ending loneliness.