Circle the Bones



The new dog ran back, deer skull

intact in her teeth, & my dad

held it to the sun. The eye hollows were

thirstier than a sexless year—

maybe even thirstier than me

after sundown. Did the dog know

what she had found?

We brought the skull inside, down to

the basement, & set it down—gently but maybe not

carefully—on the table, that table we once played ping-

pong on. I looked it over, examining the weathered

calcium curves, the rooms that were once filled

with wordless light & fever, reaction after reaction.

The phone rang; I don’t live there anymore, not

really, & I am an awful child, let my dad
leave the basement to answer it. Alone,

I circled the bones, wondering how a head divorces

its body, how a spine gets severed by seasons, which

seemed selfish, even then. Because of the head

still on my shoulders, because I’m still not sure if it’s OK

to be heartbroken over the world.

Jeremiah Moriarty‘s writing has appeared in Cosmonauts Avenue, The Cortland Review, Tammy, Wildness, the Ploughshares blog, and elsewhere. His work has been a finalist for The Iowa Review Award and nominated for a Pushcart Prize and the PEN/Robert J. Dau Prize. A graduate of Carleton College, he lives in Minneapolis.