When I was young I kept a little human skeleton in a jar. Strange gift for a child of seven, but I loved the way the arm snapped into its plastic socket, the strange liquids of fibula and ulna. I, demented Medieval fiddler, could make it do the danse macabre. I the voice of God over the valley of Hinnom, shouting live. But by night the thing took on a phosphorous glow; I could never sleep tight under its permanent smile. Memento mori, kid. I put it in a closet, no pun intended, but I still knew that same grin would be in the mirror if I peeled my lips back; I knew the dry bones dance when we dance. By night, I’m just a cocoon; what hatches waits for the cover of dark. The rest is dust. In a hymnal stained with acid, I read words of comfort: in the land of fadeless day lies the city, foursquare. The City of God has a plan, it’s white and shadeless. You can see for miles. No curtains, so everybody knows his neighbor’s business. They’re modest, they keep their skin buttoned to the throat. There is no night there, just celestial alarm clocks jangling, pots of coffee, glints off the golden pavers, red-rimmed eyes of an angel’s insomnia. I was not comforted. So here I am. I keep a little human skeleton in a place darker than anywhere, sewn up in a skin suit. I am waiting for it to emerge, to demand for itself a clean, ill-lighted place. Let’s say we like it this way. What choice do we have? Are not the things we learn by feel in the velvet dark, under the stars, the things we truly love?
Robert Hamilton lives and teaches English in Texas. His poem "Senso Unico," which appears in Posit, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2019. Other recent work is in Neologism, Pøst-, and 8 Poems. His chapbook, Heart Trouble, was published by Ghost City in 2018. Twitter: @ragandboneshop; Instagram: @_ragandboneshop_.