Construction Literary Magazine

Fall 2020

Boiling the Bones; Filament

Boiling the Bones; Filament
Photograph via Flickr by Frédéric BISSON
Boiling the Bones

She adds nothing of worth to the pot:
bits of bones, cheese ends, root tops and beef shin
turned sharp white, splitting and spilling

the heart right out of them.
No pork cheek unclaimed. No marrow or globs
of fat left to render.

The bitter rinds curdle and give way,
a taste that took years for her to learn, and given enough
hours, even the savory clippings

of rutabagas and endive yield
to the broth’s sweet finish. Now she knows, time claims
what can be taken.

Her practiced hand skims the trim,
washing what’s not fit to keep down the sink, and the broth
is broken, running wild.


She considers the bones.
In the early hours of kitchen light they glow pearlescent in the pot.
Days before the meat had clung

to the bones with a will for staying.
But even the love the meat has for the bone can be worn away.
Who’s to say it isn’t the rigid fingers

of water that coax each tendon to pull itself apart.
She imagines instead that the bone
chooses to be free,

to split itself apart,
to give up the thing that clings like a child to its side,
that beats like a heart in its marrow,

as if it were built for mourning.


I should have suspected

                 when the light bulbs went missing

it wasn’t the glass

                          that broke.

It wasn’t until I stood

                 in the dimmed bathroom

that I realized you’d been living

                          in darkness for months.

How I could have missed

                 the filaments, naked in their sockets

or the dark passage carved beneath your eyes,

                                   I’ll never know.

A mother should see these things.

                 A daughter, hunched in the tar black,

there in a waste basket,

                          a shatter of glass.