This is the title poem of my pamphlet. An earlier draft appears in A Complicated Way of Being Ignored (ed. Michael Stewart, Grist Books, 2012). The poem was also placed in The Elmet Open Poetry Competition.
Breathing Through Our Bones
The roots of lycopsid trees have the span
of a giant squid; their bark is patterned
like the skin of a pineapple or a globe artichoke.
Ex-mining towns rest on their fossilized remains.
Beneath the tangled gardens of West Street,
with stained mattresses slumped against privet,
heaped remains of old bathrooms, carcases
of kitchens, beneath mossed patches that might be lawns,
deep down in the seams of the earth, the wings
of the first dragonflies, the flattened shells of crabs,
lie imprinted in coal, along with the thigh bones
of tyrannosaurus rex, which hold evidence
of air sacs, the pneumatisation that enables
birds to fly. Here in these towns where everyone
is someone’s cousin twice removed,
we are all breathing through our bones.
This is very strong. All moves perfectly paced towrds its end.
just loved the theme – sublime ancestry and beauty underneath current domestic detritus
Thank you so much. I wrote the poem a while ago now, but it still resonates with me – and it’s great that people are still discovering it. I think that’s the great thing about poetry – the ‘slow burn’ effect.