Skeleton System Chart by Frederick Wilbur

Skeleton System Chart

Waiting for the chiropractor, my back a little
west of true north, my chakras somewhere else,
The Skeleton System Chart is neatly
pinned at each corner—not like the maps
in Vermeers that you easily overlook,
but chalky white under florescent lights.

And weren’t there seventeenth century
etchings of skeletons posing in verdant
gardens, like mobiles, leaving most everything
to the imagination? We all know bones
themselves would collapse and crash in debris fields
reminiscent of buffalo slaughters,
ivory burnings, stacks of genocide,
as bones are the truth of the man.

So the artist helped us out by suspending
those sticks from a ‘fixed beam’ with simple hook
and string—not a rope around the neck—
which threads, as straight as can be drawn,
downward through skull, vertebrae, pelvis,
dividing the dangling symmetrically,
forgetting this puppet broke its pinkie, clavicle,
scapula and two ribs in a motorcycle accident.

Curious to follow that lightning rod
to ground, I see the feet that could be male
or female floating just above the flat line
like a firewalker. I notice the plumb-bob
stuck in the earth, an arrowhead pointing
to gravity’s tugging heart.

by Frederick Wilbur

Editor’s Note: This poem’s careful imagery threads the musings of waiting into a coherent philosophy. The last sentence is a kicker (or a not-kicker, since the plumb-bob keeps the feet still).

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