Skeleton. A frame work holding something together. The legs on a chair. My legs. Her legs. The legs of the buffalo, strong and sturdy. The stem of a flower, holding the colors up to the sun against gravity. Water flowing in a river bed. The bones in her head. Her head, an entire universe expanding on itself. The clash of past with present with future simultaneously. And stories… So many stories forming on the lips of the musicians on the stage and the limp in the store clerks gait and that fleeting glance of a stranger. She felt her own bones creak under the weight of her sadness and happiness. She was in flux and slipping down the rabbit hole as she opened to her own gifts.
She had always wanted to be a writer. She had always been scared. She loved run on sentences, that had a million commas, and led into Infiniti because she didn’t like endings; they always meant something that was wouldn’t be. Like the animal of the bone that she held. A plate in the spine of a creature that moved and breathed and danced in the wind. And loved. Maybe this creature loved another creature. Or loved the way it felt when it ran over long hills and the river water splashed on its belly. She loved the way water held her when she lay back and floated off to anywhere in the world. I love the way that water holds me and makes me feel less like my bones and more like everything else.
She spent her days trying to decipher what was her and what wasn’t and she realized that everything she experienced was her in what wasn’t. So finally, we decided to let them all run free. It was dangerous. The game of depicting the world around you in sounds and smells and sights and feelings all separately in order to piece them together again. Noticing things comes at the cost of awareness and awareness comes with responsibility. Once the bones become an animal, it is impossible to see the bones without them. Her meals had become hands. Hands that planted seeds and hands that harvested them and hands that moved them and cleaned the food and hands that bought it and the hands that cooked and cleaned. The hands that did all of this loved other hands too. Hands love other hands.
The human hand has twenty-seven bones. Fourteen of these are in the fingers. She clasped her hands together around the Elk bone to feel her own. “I am small,” she said to me as I peered into her eyes, watching her slip away into a million other words. We sat together in our bones, growing and decaying at equal rates. She drank a sip of water that slipped through her rib cage and danced through the rivers of her body. I left her there thinking. I could tell the bones were becoming her, and she needed space to fill in all of the words that clung to her own spine and kept her contained in one vessel. She has been fun to travel with. I have never seen the world in such a clear and cluttered way before. It is as if everything has new life again. I ask myself, “Is this what it is to be alone?” often, noticing it is the first time I have been for years. I am alone with her as we learn each other again. She is kind and confusing. She is still mad at me for ignoring her while I tried to play along with ways of seeing the world I didn’t understand, while she sat outside explaining everything in poetry behind a window.
She always knew how to explain everything that no one else seemed to understand. I just didn’t know how to listen. I didn’t know how to bring her around my friends, though she always drank with us.
She has known me all along. I feel her slipping back into my bones.