Figurative Anatomy

By Mollie Kervick

At first I thought she was mistaken,
when I overheard the lady
on the train. She reached
to adjust her tortoiseshell glasses,

crowning her grayed head,
telling the man next to her: You know,
babies have more bones than adults.

Even though I heard science in her voice
and could see it in the wet corners
of her eyes, I would not
let myself believe her.


According to my knowledge
of osteology, a baby is just a little stone.
One round bone draped in new,
dewy skin cradling the tiny core.

Then growing pains, I call them, when
legs and arms extend. Bones branching,
multiplying as space
and time allow.


The old man sits, a flat cap
on his head, in the waiting room,
or at the park. His knees bend
over the edge of a bench.

Look at his hands, those bony stars
spread, resting on top of his thighs.

Look closely through the papery
wrinkles and blue veins; can you see
his used, white knuckles?

Look at him, now try
to believe he is filled
with fewer pieces than
the brand new infant.


Each day is a bone
we fit under our skin,
into the hidden scaffolding.

We build careful skeletons,
make bodies out of bones,
to carry us.