In Blood On Stone In Bone

By Neile Graham

how do we know her?

we know her by blood:

her spoor, it's the trail

of her ancestors

feeding the raw flesh

cell by cell

carrying the air she breathes

throughout her, carrying the waste

away; it's grey—grey till you

cut her, then see how bright

how do we know her?

we know her by stone

each place she has trod

has a bit of her name, has worn

her down, has worn her

she names each place

with a memory stone

and then forgets

but the stones don't, they tell her tales

she's not there

to listen to

how do we know her?

we know her by bone:

bone found in the cathedral floor,

or better yet just outside the churchyard

where her tale can be guessed

suicide, unbaptised, or whore

a sinner for sure

when she dies she's hidden

under stone

when we think we've lost her

we find the stone

dig her up

find her bright bright blood in our veins

her marrow in our bones


Neile Graham is Canadian by birth and inclination, but currently lives in Seattle. Her poetry and short fiction have been published in America, England, and Canada, and she has three full-length poetry collections (Seven Robins, Spells for Clear Vision, and Blood Memory). She is a graduate of and currently workshop administrator for Clarion West. You can see more of her work at her website, or send her email at neile@sff.net.