Bones – by Yasmin Mariam Kloth

The panoramic dental x-ray
showed a section of my skeleton
smiling from my nose to my chin.
The hygienist explained
all the bones of my skull, tip of a Bic
to the screen. Concave and convex curves,
sinus cavities like dark lakes
in an open field. There were my teeth
neatly in a row, roots long and clean
living like tall pines on a hill,
nerve endings we don’t think
to remember
until the hidden network
throbs in gentle waves.
I’m exposed to this stranger
in black and white film.
Can she tell if these bones
look like someone else’s bones and
the names of all the people
who gave them to me?

In the bath my daughter looks
at me, her eyes level with the tub
so all I see are my eyes
looking back at me.
What line in my Syrian-Lebanese blood
made eyes the shape of delicate ovals
with points at either end?
The skin that covers my skeleton
knows much more about the sun,
my bones know the shape and color
of the earth. It was my mother’s bones
that broke down first when the cancer returned.
What line in her Syrian-Lebanese blood
sent her damaged cells?

I touch the bones at the base of my eyes.
There are hard places here, and soft.
Can the doctors tell me why and
the names of all the people
who made me easy to cry?
My bones tell me
I am already old inside my body.
What will I tell my daughter
when she asks me how it is
she was made?

Yasmin Mariam Kloth writes creative nonfiction and poetry. Her writing scratches at love, loss, place and space, with a focus on exploring her Middle Eastern heritage. Her work has appeared in Gravel, West Texas Literary Review, JuxtaProse, O:JA&L, and Willawaw Journal. Yasmin lives in Cincinnati, OH with her husband and young daughter.

Painting: “The Dream”
Artist: Henry L. Jones
2019 – 16×20 inches – mixed media on canvas