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Noelle Rydell


They are not candles. But what can you do?
They are bones, useful all the same,
wickless but still igniting the body.

I hate knowing they exist—
their thin cushion of cartilage like a defective air bag;
the complaining dialogue between bone and rain;
arthritis and osteoporosis waiting
in each cell like kidnappers.

I hate those science class skeletons empty except
for their joking eyes.
I hate them as I hate the dark:
the strained joints of the house creaking,
our sleeping bodies angled bone against bone,
trying not to poke each other:
propped elbows, arched hips, bent hands
holding hundreds of delicate fingerbones.

Understand, mortals have bones the stars
lay awake at night counting
trying to fall asleep,
staring from a far distance
at whirring pillars of atoms: human bones
like candles propped
on earth.

How can I stand it?
How can I bear
knowing my bones will outlive me?
My marrow is hollow
with such radiant fragility.

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