strategies for survival

By Beryle Williams [1]



Our fossilized bones

someday may lie

slipped scarcely beneath

the dark upper loam

of earth, "finds"

for the children

with gilt hair

and body suits of gold mail

or some fine fabric made

possible by the discovery

of that one fail-safe element.


Old body

be determined

to leave nothing but dust

for these sun-charmed children.


Bones are nothing

but messages

saying repeat me, love me

back into shape

that I was, clacking

their fleshless way

into the hearts

of children born forgetting

they have them.


Crumble, bones, scatter

gnash yourselves to nothing

like teeth of fitful sleepers


do not claim what you were

nor offer yourselves up

for inspection



and especially not for

loving reconstruction.

The world has had enough

of love--it often breeds

and feeds such moral



Better, we say, to leave

these wandering children


than to trip them up

with absurd old relics of a kind

that destroyed itself

for love

of too much

or perhaps

of too little

in too great amounts but nevertheless

for love.


Better, we say (in the dark, and only

when our own children sleep)

to leave no trace

that might entice

that one slightly curious

star-eyed drifter

(too like these vulnerable ones

we've known) away from aimless

care-less drifting...better,

we whisper...and dream



of arrows on rocks, scripts in caves,

bulges in earth just strange enough

to tempt a digger, leave clues

all through the restless night

until children, bright-faced

and gilt-haired in sunlight

wake these late sleepers

to morning.


[1] "Reprinted with grateful acknowledgement to Atomic Ghost, Coffee House Press, 1995, and Grounds for Peace, Women Against Military Madness, 1994, and to the Colorado Poets Center website of the University of Northern Colorado, where this poem has previously appeared."