Singing for These Dancing Bones by Jenne Kaivo

Vultures and bones and briars and stones.
This is not the right place
and I’d like to go home.
I am dreaming of bushels of wheat
ground up fine, ground up coarse, ground like sand
on the first beach I saw.

Hillocks and sky and clifftops and flies
and I’m bathing in dust like a bird.
All is elusive and swift but the plants, which are doing their best.

Smokestacks and desolate streets and maybe an alley or two and I wish
there were ghosts but I guess
bones will do, which are splintered and yellow
and dug from the ground.

There was twine on a shelf
in the general store
and the gallows are just like a marionette stage,
so now I’m surrounded by dancers all grinning.
I would like to go home but because
they need music to dance by, I sing.

An arm and a rib from some sort of a deer
make a rhythm with tickings and rasps.
I want to be home and I’m singing a song
about when all was ocean around us
until things got thirsty.
There are antelope licking
the salt of the fields.

Windfall and stars and what were once bars,
with maybe some old-home town medicine left
in a jug in the cellar below, and I’d look
but my hands are like claws.

The salt flats are suddenly almost like snow,
it’s all I can do not to suck chunks for moisture.
The wind is still sending the dust anyplace it can go and the dancers
still grinning, enjoying the bath and it’s like
I’ve been dipping in flour.
It’s still only me entertaining.
The dancers will stop long before
the desert dogs start to sing out from the hills in their chorus.

I am singing a song about how it will be
when the hills rise so high on each side
of the town that it’s pinched
like a flea, like the corpse
of a flea.

Windrise and flour and great granite towers.
All of these boards are already so tattered,
all of these horseshoes already so reddened,
that I doubt that the desert will know what it’s crushing
were maybe once roads.
I am here but I want to be home
with the grey glass and stone.
I am singing for these dancing bones.


Jenne Kaivo finds a paradoxical comfort in horror, sleeps in the daytime, and cringes back from the hot and blinding sun. She’s one of those.

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