The bone in her heart grows up past her throat
crackles its chill in her
stone cold cheek
she can’t talk it away so she walks it
down by the river’s raw bite.
She stalks the rimy bank of a tongue
for where water will wear away bone
each footstep following one of her own.
On shale, under blear, limestone chains
lie like spines in the shallow gravel bed.
Snagged in rock at a weir’s head, a dog-leg
of thorn-rusted twig, hoar-coated
in feathers like bleached iron filings, clings
to robin-red hips hard-glazed
in the current’s breath.
Now the blood’s in her belly
the sleet in her chest hacks up, grist
to her grind, spits out over her lip’s crust.
Spume crests the bitter flow
By the lee path she leaves riven depths, treks
through woods’ winter skeletons, broaches the burn
to the ice field, stone still.
From Fay Musselwhite’s debut collection Contraflow (Longbarrow Press, 2016). Listen to Fay Musselwhite reading this poem on location: