The Bone Daughter
I do not want all of these extra spaces
carved inside me, and outside, too
I do not want the blood
or the family tree with rotten leaves twisted ‘round the branches.
My grandmother loved music. She went to a very good school for it,
half a century ago.
During her eulogy, this part of her was grounded down, like warm bones
fresh out of the crematorium (fire is not enough to splinter them).
Music was eclipsed by the man who was not a good man
and she will be buried beside him, her decay joining his
as the blood mixes with water when it falls out of us
even if we never want what it brings
and sometimes, even when we do (the body is not always enough to build).
My family is a family of daughters who were
Born inside out
(with a cleft lip)
My family is a family where
Daughters are dragged underground.
It only takes one person on the tree.
Their roots will extend too far out.
I want to go to the resting places of my grandfathers
and write “rapist” on one headstone and “breaker of bones” on the other
In many ways, I feel like the first daughter who was dragged under,
the one who is responsible for the changing of the seasons.
Though in my story, she is willingly
emptying her insides and outsides,
ridding herself of unwanted space.
In the morning, her eyes receded into her skull
In the afternoon her skin peeled away and
In the evening the rest of her—her heart and her kidneys and her lungs—
tumbled out and she left them where they fell,
a daughter made only of her sturdiest remains—
Queen of the damned,
who jangles when she walks through the streets and the hillsides,
not for jewels placed at her wrists or the flimsy dip of her throat,
but for the absence of meat to swallow the sound between her bones.
Faith Cotter is a writer and medical editor who lives in Pittsburgh, PA. You can learn more about her and her work at www.faithcotter.wordpress.com