Jane Baker


The bones exposed

have long since

given up the fight

for who they were.

That shattered femur

rests anonymous among

assorted shoulder blades

and other shins that

may or may not

make a whole.


Death is here

a black abstraction

of totalled deaths,

of numbered grave pits

and variations on the theme

of barbarism.

Massacre sites

scroll down the mind

in litany—a soundless chant

of lanes and streets and factories

and white bones broken.


It takes that iron nail

embedded in a skull

to loose their screams

and it takes the tiny shells

of water snails,

crept among the dead,

to release the stench

of the slushy river shallows

where they died.


Most of all, it takes

the bronze footprints

of those who did not die,

to keep on walking,

as stubborn testament

to their names and lives

and being down all

the white bone years.