My Skeleton

Jane Hirshfield

 
My skeleton,
you who once ached
with your own growing larger

are now,
each year
imperceptibly smaller,
lighter,
absorbed by your own
concentration.

When I danced,
you danced.
When you broke,
I.

And so it was lying down,
walking,
climbing the tiring stairs.
Your jaws. My bread.

Someday you,
what is left of you,
will be flensed of this marriage.

Angular wristbone's arthritis,
cracked harp of ribcage,
blunt of heel,
opened bowl of the skull,
twin platters of pelvis—
each of you will leave me behind,
at last serene.

What did I know of your days,
your nights,
I who held you all my life
inside my hands
and thought they were empty?

You who held me all my life
inside your hands
as a new mother holds
her own unblanketed child,
not thinking at all.
 
Copyright © 2013 by Jane Hirshfield. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on October 14, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Poems by This Author

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Each Moment a White Bull by Jane Hirshfield
First Light Edging Cirrus by Jane Hirshfield
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For What Binds Us by Jane Hirshfield
Late Self-Portrait by Rembrandt by Jane Hirshfield
The dog, dead for years, keeps coming back in the dream
Many-Roofed Building in Moonlight by Jane Hirshfield
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The Bell Zygmunt by Jane Hirshfield
The Supple Deer by Jane Hirshfield
This Was Once a Love Poem by Jane Hirshfield
This was once a love poem
Waking the Morning Dreamless After Long Sleep by Jane Hirshfield
But with the sentence


Further Reading

Poems About Aging
Abandonment Under the Walnut Tree
by D. A. Powell
Affirmation
by Donald Hall
Age
by Robert Creeley
Age and Death
by Emma Lazarus
Almost Sixty
by Jim Moore
Beyond the Years
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
Blues
by Elizabeth Alexander
Demeter in Paris
by Meghan O'Rourke
E.H.
by John Koethe
El Dorado
by Edgar Allan Poe
Fear of the Future
by John Koethe
First Gestures
by Julia Spicher Kasdorf
Fixed Interval
by Devin Johnston
Forgetfulness
by Billy Collins
Gerontion
by T.S. Eliot
Get Up, Please
by David Kirby
In View of the Fact
by A. R. Ammons
Looking Back in My Eighty-First Year
by Maxine Kumin
Moonlight
by Sara Teasdale
My Lost Youth
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Poem at Thirty
by Michael Ryan
Preparation
by Effie Waller Smith
Quiet
by Tony Hoagland
Refusing at Fifty-Two to Write Sonnets
by Thomas Lynch
Rock Me to Sleep
by Elizabeth Akers Allen
Self-Portrait
by Adam Zagajewski
Since Nine—
by C. P. Cavafy
The Chicago Poem
by Jerome Rothenberg
The Edges of Time
by Kay Ryan
The Human Seasons
by John Keats
The Tower
by W. B. Yeats
The Widows of Gravesend
by L. S. Asekoff
The Young Man's Song
by W. B. Yeats
this kind of fire
by Charles Bukowski
To a Young Girl at a Window
by Margaret Widdemer
To Chloe: Who for his sake wished herself younger
by William Cartwright
To Earthward
by Robert Frost
to my last period
by Lucille Clifton
To Think of Time
by Walt Whitman
Two Horses and a Dog
by James Galvin
When You are Old
by W. B. Yeats
Poems about the Body
A Hand
by Jane Hirshfield
After tagging the dust your body is made of
by Jen Tynes
Anatomy
by Monica Ferrell
Bodyweight
by Matthew Schwartz
Brokeheart: Just like that
by Patrick Rosal
Danse Russe
by William Carlos Williams
Flux
by Afaa M. Weaver
For the Man with the Erection Lasting More than Four Hours
by John Hodgen
Ghost in the Land of Skeletons
by Christopher Kennedy
Guessing My Death [excerpt]
by CAConrad
Headaches
by Marilyn Hacker
homage to my hips
by Lucille Clifton
Human Atlas
by Marianne Boruch
I Sing the Body Electric
by Walt Whitman
In the Surgical Theatre
by Dana Levin
Love Letter to a Stranger
by Jenny Browne
Multiple Man: Guest-starring me & you
by Gary Jackson
Post-Dissertation-Intervention (i.)
by Ronaldo Wilson
Self-Portrait in a Wire Jacket
by Monica Youn
Slight Tremor
by Linda Gregerson
Textbook & Absence (Anatomy)
by Catherine Barnett
The Tongue
by Chris Martin
These Hands, If Not Gods
by Natalie Diaz
With Child
by Genevieve Taggard