We, the Bones

Syd Shaw

fell from the gallows into parched earth

and did not rest   what new torment

a mass grave    a hundred cracked shells

cast away   forgotten by the tide


were saved from our exile   unearthed

by younger hands   reburied with markers

damp and blessed soil   fire-licked roots,

trees too stunted to hold noose    home


stolen from our nest after a hundred years

we traveled long in leather   burlap   velvet

unearthed for eyes to see and hands to hold

unmarrowed by thousands    hungry eyes


exactly three hundred years from the fall

returned to rest on a farm   not our own   

no more museums  sideshows   unartful bones

receive no funeral   no living left to mourn


speak when no one is left to speak

or else the headstone speaks for us

burn me or hang me I will stand in truth



Syd Shaw studied poetry at Northwestern University. She has previously been published in Snapdragon Journal, The Nearness Project, (Her)oics, and The London Reader. She lives in California.