from The Bone and the Body

Letter to a Tenant – October 26

This is the science of hooves: the frog, the coffin, the bone and the body. It is a softer center, and a delicate wall. Then to scrape around the edges is to follow the hard curve, the always-open mouth. It all goes down in a spiral, the soft foot sinking to scrape against rocks and shattered shells. To bruise. To plaster the site of trauma. And the body turns back to itself, founders on the rocks. And the sea scrapes out a hollow.

To the Woman in the Woods – November 7

When the wave came, where were you? When I tapped my fingers against the floorboards, when I made a secret code, where were you? This house peels like a scab in the sun. Like a book left out on the beach. It took in the salt water, and now the siding is shrinking. Now we become smaller. The skin on my feet peels against the rough stone steps to the sea, and I climb them every day, waiting for the sea to make amends. There is no echo, no sound. No one is yet sorry.

To the Woman in the Woods – November 11

There is a man in the sea, a man with a whale bone spine for a back. His boat was far away, and I thought I heard him speak, thought he told a story about the boat, how he found it washed up down the beach. The wave had clotted its beams with sea urchins, spines out, plugged all the little wood-beetle holes with their mouths to swallow the water. I thought he said your name. I thought the boat was full of oysters. I thought he had come to plant them again, to rub the soft slabs of their pink feet against his palm, to place a cool hand down into the water, to place their feet into the shell-bitten sand, to form a rock warren, a bone garden. I thought he said all this far out on the water as the boat bobbed up and down in the rip tide, the motion jostling his spine, setting off a clattering of bones.

Letter to a Tenant – November 14

This is the science of bodies: the shape and the frame, the altogether. The not. The soft part stretching over the hard form. Leaving a little bone behind, the body the occupied or the body the occupier. Who takes up this space inside of me and who has cleaned the rafters? The both of them. The bone of them inside or outside, the breath through the space a fragment. The breath, the body, the bone, the yellow skin of the word in your mouth. That a breath cannot be a space, and I hide my life in the sound of it.

Letter to a Tenant – November 22

I believe this may be the truth: out there in the ocean, there is a dark hole. It is the graveyard of the sea. There are many bones inside. The Whale Bone Man went fishing one day, threw in his bait and felt the ocean shimmy. Or he felt nothing. Or he indicated nothing. After some time passed, he drew up the bait and found a clean spine wrapped around his hook, the chinks waterlogged, all parts included, the bones unable to bear the loss of each other. The smallest bone the size and shape of an oyster.

Letter to a Tenant – November 23

I believe this may be the truth: after the wave came crashing, after it wrapped its sodden hands around the posts of my balcony, after it snatched up all the oysters, out there in the ocean it made itself a nest of bones. Every filament of hinge and foot. Every juncture smooth, and the bowl of the nest was mother-of-pearl, and it laid upon the waves, and it made itself ready to hold such things as an egg, or a dark red rock fallen from the sky. From this the Whale Bone Man makes his methods. From this he learns secret arts.

JoelBrouwerPhotoLaura Kochman is the author of Future Skirt (dancing girl press, 2013). Originally from New Jersey, she currently lives, writes, and feeds her cat in Philadelphia. Her work is found or forthcoming from Sink Review, Parcel, Ghost Proposal, Artifice, and others. She is an assistant editor for Coconut Magazine.