by Nora Cox
a wasp waist
a coat and tails
each day a pound of flesh wearing away
a she thinning in the cave
new soft scales, skin forming in her place
three-fourths of her flesh is held in water
one-fifth of her bone is held in water
If she burns, along with the rest, about one-twelfth of she
is left as ashes and insoluble.
lime around the thresholds
begin again. another call.
The shape of her body is outlined in bone.
Two hundred six bones in a normal body. Twenty-six backbones.
In her passage
at the ends of bones, at the ends of you and me, joints slip past
each other like plates.
a dried bone is two-thirds lime. soaking her in a mixture of one part hydrochloric acid in ten parts water will remove the lime, leaving her / the bone so soft as to be tied, in a knot. burning her / the bone will remove the connective tissue and leave the lime to float—in the exact shape of the bone.
explains why she has replicas, takes shape from the ends of others.
carnage covers the ends of each bone, in a movable joint. a layer joins the bones in immovable joints. the young ones are mostly carnage. (Or, “cartilage.”)
When we press on her long bones, she grows crooked and deformed.
when she grows she takes up more lime in the bones
to receive blood from the veins
to send blood to the interior
she bursts, she wakes.
an animal can’t live in she, and she can’t support ”the burning in a fire.”
There is a point at which
what is hidden
rises and escapes
is no longer
held by what comes up through a sieve
They are certain. One of them along my spine, a coiling around the ribs, head downward. At the end of the occlusion: la bête noire.
a lateral cut to extract the viscera
/ in the middle of the play stripped of bone /
she gathered the dis-membered ones
in thousands of pieces
they took their places, drifting…
we ate in the foundation
I / she can no longer bear the sound
of my / her own voice
now grown cannibalistic.
though we’ve grown accustomed to the taste
not all are equal
I spread my spent blood
(smeared from femoral artery)
onto my thighs
we spread the dust
into a paste
a mask of soot on her face.
my memory leaches out the bone / the memory of a hull
Nora Cox grew up in Indiana but has spent the last 10 years in Colorado, where she earned her MFA in Writing & Poetics from Naropa University. A former teacher, Nora now works at Denver Public Library as a librarian. Her poems are part of an unpublished manuscript called the book of she, which is loosely based on the volcanic eruption that took place in Martinique in 1902.