By Bone by Kristin Collier

After my father died, I dreamt
doctors could stitch someone back
to life, bone by bone, breathe air
into lungs, rub warmth into stiff limbs.

He returned to me another man—
an uneven gait, sunken steel eyes,
and rubbery, damp hands. Clumsy
with love, his speech was slurred.

He was my pet; I fed him, read to him,
said I’d missed him to the moon
and back. I hugged his half-dead form
because I was stupid with longing.

This morning I awoke from dark
magic into an empty room,
shadows cast by spidery trees
across my bed. And now I

know what it means to be made
wild with loss. To be undone
bone by bone, beat by heartbeat
into a shapeless cry.

Kristin Collier
kristin collier resizedKristin Collier is a poet and essayist living in Chicago where she teaches high school English. Her most recent essay “Becoming Acquainted with Rocks” was published in Barnstorm Literary Journal. She holds an undergraduate degree in English from the University of Michigan and a graduate degree in Education from Lehman College in New York City.