dinosaur bones

“my father & i steal back our dinosaur bones”, “light up my body like an EXIT sign–” and “where do you bury your bed time stories?”

In Poetry by Robin Gow

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my father & i steal back our dinosaur bones

when i was three i sat on my father’s
shoulders to bear witness
to the mighty bone elegy of
allosaurus–
hunks of boulder lodged
in the fossilized body of
ankylosaurs– we
were bone worshipers–
our pilgrimage summoned
us to the Museum of Natural History–
disciples of the skeleton–
acolytes of anatomy–
it was probably a few years later
that our own bones
started to fade away–
we didn’t notice at first–
found it harder & harder
to walk next to
each other–
we stopped praying to
dinosaurs–
tore off an arm bone
to use as a softball bat–
steadied ourselves with the
torsos of the trees–
the necks of the ivy
pulling us up by the puppet strings–
mornings we have to crawl on
all fours to make
it through another field
of antique lamps &
PEZ dispensers
in august
my father & i meandered on
the arthritic gravel
of the country road behind
our house–
the one with the foxes
eating watermelon rinds
& we realized we were both
limping–
my father’s body crumpled–
his ribs turned into kindling–
snapped like
wishbones or
violin bows–
he touched my arm
with his callous fingers–
felt right through it–
no bones–no bones– no fossils–
we had become a state
of being stolen–
a femur– a fibula– the arch
of my hips bit off like
the bottom of an ice cream cone–
i melt–we melt
on the back steps of the
bottling works where
we drink root beer like
cough syrup–
count the number of bones
we’ve had pillaged & make
a list–
my father wants back
his ribs–
i’m settling for
my knees– i’m nothing
without something to
hinge on–
somehow i get back up on his
shoulders
& we manage not to crumble–
it’s dark but the moon
has a belly full of koi–
we break in through the windows
of the museum–
this time there is no reverence
because we want our bones back–
the ones the dinosaurs have taken
from us all these years–
i want the hallow legs
of a pterodactyl– the crest of
an iguanodon–
my father tears the
plates off the back
of the stegosaurus to make armor–
this time
this time
this time we won’t break.


light up my body like an EXIT sign–

i raise my hand when they
tell you locate the exits in the theater–
neon, red, & shouting–
my skin is made a siren–
people ask me how i came to
this & i tell them
that some of us are born
entering a room
& others are born leaving it–
i’m also in the process of departing–
you can walk out through me–
bend the door knobs of my shoulders
& push
me open– there is always a stair case
to fall down if you’re not
careful or if you’re looking for the
sensation of flight–
no i don’t know where i’m leaving
for– the destination was never
the point of the exit–
hold my hand &
lock the door behind you–
hail the permanency
of the click of the back door
of my spine–
transverse the skin stretched
across each rib–
i try to wash the neon out of
my freckles–
i glow when it’s dark &
everyone finds me with their
suicide letters written in crayon
on napkins–
i know they’re only looking for
a way out &
i happen to glow above
a door frame–
invite me inside– i’m the inversion
of a vampire &
i’m asking you if you want to leave–
i eat nightlights with
my fingers and sometimes
a plastic fork–
there’s no where left
to go in a room this
dark other than outside–
if you that’s where i’m leading you–
don’t be scared–
it’s better to walk out together–
this is the arch–
i can be your two by two–
no we don’t have to
be the same species– i’ve
opened my lips
to swallow lovers & diplomats &
women who collect
too many ceramic statues–
we all have space for another
back door–
we all wanted a way out
& then you got me–
bright red light to brand
my name in the cool
flesh of the wall–
i prefer that you think of
me as a process of departing–
vacating– turning
a door knob like the winding up
of a pocket watch–
instead of the fixed blare of
lights they chose to
demarcate my body–
to separate me from the rest of
you who call me EXIT–
i raise my hand in the dark of
the theater.


where do you bury your bed time stories?

the bunk bed was the confessional.
my brother and i slept on the pews–
looked up at the sky cut
out of stained glass– picked up
the pieces of the clouds
in red & orange fragments–
a new collage to set the sun–
my uncle told us the same bed time
story through our whole childhood
but somehow it was still always
alive–
the story of the silver airplane
whose engine punched
holes in time–
a glimmer sent the craft
past the wings of pterodactyls–
soar above the sinking
carcass of a city of stars
floating as freckles
on the bruised
cheek bones of the
titanic–
the crew played out of tune
for us from the slant of the deck–
violin string & trombone bell
frozen in the sea–
before the story was over
my brother was already asleep–
face wedged firmly in
the pillow
on the bottom bunk
but my uncle continued as i gripped
silver bars of the bed–
the plane always managed to find
itself home–
circling circling
back to a runway where the man’s family
was waiting
& the men would always resolve to
hide the device away forever–
take shovels & give the memory a burial–
so i hung on to my own body
so as to not wake up in a dream
as my uncle voice faded into the hum
of a fan & the flicker of a nightlight–
in the morning i walk
out into the back yard–
bare foot & holding a soup spoon
i am twenty & ready to unearth
the air plane
so as to dunk myself
into the ocean from a slanted deck–
i want pterodactyl bites–
i want the glimmer
of time travel to ignite me
out of the soil–
i dug with the spoon
until i broke
through the roof of church
to fall through the veil
of stained glass
i had used to build the sky–
they were singing
from the pews again–
a gloating
Ave ave ave Maria–
& my uncle was there but
he didn’t remember it was morning–
we broke time with our
nightmares
with our bunk beds–
held onto our own eyelids
to keep from drowning in dirt–
i’ll lace up my black canvas shoes
& start at the far end of the runway–
leap
leap
leap
we’ll set the pieces of the
sky in place–
bury our bedtime stories
under the lake.

About the Author

Robin Gow

Robin Gow’s poetry has recently been published in Synaesthesia and FIVE:2:ONE. Robin Gow is an undergraduate student at Ursinus College studying English, Creative Writing, and Spanish but Poetry is always zer passion. Ze runs a poetry blog and serves as the production editor of the Lantern literary magazine.