Rooming with Your Bones

A poem by Heather Gustine

When they asked at the post office what you wanted

with a skeleton, you said you were studying

the human form. When they said, What?

The girlfriend’s not enough? you laughed,

and now request that I take care of it

while you finish your semester in Bordeaux.


The skeleton is real,

you tell me, and once belonged to a man,

so I should show some respect.

I don’t believe you, and throw pistachios at his eye sockets

when I’m on the phone or bored.


During the day,

I slide my socks over his ribs,

drape my bras over his shoulders,

and thread necklaces through his ears.

I try to gag him with a pair of my underwear,

but dislodge his jaw instead

and spend most of my weekend plugging his teeth back in.


But his shadows deepen at night,

and the unhinged skull glows

from the street light outside my window.

The hairs on my neck prick up

when he rattles from the 2 AM train.

I wheel him from one room of the apartment to the next,

the bones clacking like clumsy chopsticks

as I try to banish him from my peripheral vision.


I threw a party in your absence

where the guests convinced me

the bones were a sure sign

that you’d taken another lover.

I pulled the Ouija board out from under my bed

and wiped off its dust veil.

We set his jaw on the table,

shook his loose teeth

in our cupped palms

before flinging them across the table like dice.

heatherHeather Gustine is currently completing her MFA at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA. Her poems have appeared in Nerve Cowboy, The Red Clay Review, Permafrost, and elsewhere. She helps edit the literary journal, The Fourth River.} else {

1 comment for “Rooming with Your Bones

  1. September 24, 2009 at 7:19 am

    I enjoyed this poem a great deal. I love the play with the skeleton and how that progresses. Great job!

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