MARROW

GLYN EDWARDS

 
 

I wanted a collection of skulls while I was young. When
mammoth bones were being dredged from the North Sea
like turnips, I sought my own shelf of shapes:
a fox’s secretive snarl and grainy bulb beak of a swan,
the polished fennel root of a rabbit. I expected to discover
 
them nostriling out of the back lawn like iceberged bones,
so I could summon them up with foraging fingers.
 
They would not need jaws hinging or teeth supergluing,
no pelt to peel or boil away; the soil would have sucked
all sinews, all pulse. No jackals could roam my room,
calling me from my sleep: the deer or wolf, the bear
would inhabit the cage of the brain in name alone.
 
I coveted beasts that age had thrown itself at in storms,
chiselling them from the cliff edges they’d been coffined.
 
There would be no space on the shelf for matchboxes
that rattled with shrew’s snouts, thimbleheaded reptiles,
hurrying, scurrying insects whose colonies were smaller than crania.
I made my family understand I hunted only unicorns,
plundered divine animals that decayed
 
so many decades ago they had barely ever died.
Then today, I chased next door’s cat from its cruelty
 
and found a swallow unzipped beneath a rosebush.
The fledging was frightening to my son who saw
his shallow mortality in the bird and begged me
to bury it deeper than any dinosaur,
beyond vertebra on a shelf of sand and silt.

 

 
 

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