Featured Poem: Family Portrait as a Collection of Bones

By Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach

My dog collects bones, buries them
in couch cushions as though in
the earth, returning to find them

whole and uneaten by worms.
My husband collects bruises, counts
how many rise above the skin, how wide

the purpling icebergs spread. He collects
bass strings, forms them into hanging loops,
bronzing nooses. My father collects
words, reading everything and hiding
sunflower seeds in his pockets
so he can chew and smile without having
to speak. He collects centuries and kingdoms
in a cyberworld where he is warrior and lord
and matters. My mother, she collects
collecting, keeps my room a mausoleum, missing
only the body. Grandfather collects replicas
of himself: a chess player, a head of hair,
a lesson of how to clean the countertop
with baking soda and a steady hand.
Grandmother collects children
and grandchildren, buries their worry deep
inside her chest as though it were
the earth. She tells me not to look
for bones, that collection amounts
to very little and the man who collected
millions of light bulbs
                                       still died
in a museum of glass, outlived
by his assembled light.
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