Music professor Joanna White has works in: Examined Life Journal, Healing Muse, MacGuffin, Measure, Sow’s Ear, Earth’s Daughters, Dunes Review, KYSO Flash Anthologies, Cherry Tree, and The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), among others. Her first collection, Drumskin and Bones, will be published (Salmon Press, Ireland) March 2021.
The El train sped through the Chicago night.
Racing downtown to hear the orchestra play,
our train car the only pocket of light
for miles, we barely spoke, polite,
stared out windows, first date pleasant all the way.
The El train sped below the Chicago night
to Adams/Wabash, where we ascended to bright
clash of city, walked the rest of the way,
Michigan Avenue a pocket of lights.
We heard the concert, then moseyed right
back to the station. You led the way on to the El
train, which sped through the Chicago night,
us gazing out the window, rhythm of streetlights
swishing, until the end of the line, all the way
your hand in my pocket, out of the light.
Wait…not our station…but end of the line is right…
Southside end of the line! We sped
to the northbound train, that Chicago night,
rode for hours, your hand still in my pocket, light.
We hobbled on ankle bones
of contention, picked our bones dry,
tossed milk bones to the dog, cat-
scanned our lazy ache of crazy bones.
We felt it in our bones. We were boneless,
silked to the bone, laid our feelings
bare as bones. A curled kitten we found
in the flood, all blood and bone, her boots
bone-white. We skirted the boneyard, blew
out candles to make a wishbone, tickled
your funny bones, pin bones, ringbones, sawbones,
carved whale bone flutes. We made
no bones about it. We deboned
our chickens, skull and crossbones stuck
like fish bones in our throats, unfolded
back bones, wore herringbones. We dug
up a heap of skeleton bones, danced jigs
in the rain with the bonefish, soaked
to our shackle bones, and rattled
our knuckle bones, cuttlebones,
hambones. We played the trombone.
We boned up, mourned our lost bone mass,
memories bleached as bone. We jiggled
our tail bones; we were bone
idle. Our wounds bone deep, we rushed
to the bone factory, where they x-rayed
all two-hundred-six, only to tell us
we had not a mean bone in our bodies.