As the Fox Bones Speak
Under the whitest moon she finds the body of a fox,
shot, the bullet hole like punctuation
By midnight she has scoured the forest for the missing bones. Arranged the skeleton of Vulpes vulpes beneath a tree. Her neck’s bristling, which means a man has crossed her path. Her legs freeze.
He’s pressed to the earth in front of her, squinting over the lip of a ridge; nose twitching, stink rising, quickening the air.
It’s a week since he jumped ship and started hacking his way back to his slim-hipped vixen waiting for him in a hidden cabin. She’s sick.
It takes him a month to reach her. A month to lay out the bones he’d taken from the woman in the forest—tarsals, carpals, fibulas, tibias, ulna, sacrum, distal phalanges, ribs, scapular and skull—rearticulated to form the mandala she’d bewitched into being.
Done, he turns to his dying lover. Traces her like the fox. Begs the bones to speak.
Author's note: "I saw Jessie Imam’s Untitled #4 (fox bones – pattern) and it made me think of oracle bones, and how ancient Celts and shamans inscribed questions on bones, and believed that bones have voices (much as some people today still believe their dead ancestors speak to them). Imam hoped her artwork portrayed ‘acceptance of our bodies’ inevitable destruction, rather than one of fear’. But I’d already conjured a man who could not accept the destruction of his lover’s body—and was desperate enough to resort to many things, including ‘scrying the bones’ (in his own way), to try to heal her."
Marjorie Lewis-Jones is an award-winning Sydney writer whose poetry and prose has been published by Spineless Wonders, ABC Radio National, Picaro Press, Poetry Australia, Cordite, Uneven Floor, Hunter Writers Centre, Best Australian Writing 2015, the ACU Prize for Poetry 2016, and other anthologies. She runs the literary blog, www.abiggerbrighterworld.com
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