Jacqueline Boucher

Hymn for blood lake and bone pile

The Descent (2005, Dir. Neil Marshall)


i. February

When I sleep, it’s beneath

an open window. A push of winter


wind nudges through blankets,

& this bedroom is not so small


as it used to be. On television,

a helicopter glides over the mouth


of a pit, bored by some giant to learn fear

of the dark from his place in the sky,


& I am the opposite of bone.

I don’t have enough blood. This room,


a dugout carved in dirt by the fingerful,

fortified with warm, wet wood for screaming


and the smell of rot and stillness. Where is the door.


Where is the door.                   Where is the door.


ii. December

A dead woman wears my sparkliest flats.

I know this because I eulogized her,

filled her mouth with yellow jackets

and watched the way they bit her tongue

into a coin purse. Piece by piece, I sloughed


the fat of her thighs until her femurs clunked like wind

chimes, painted her face the color of sun,

of blackberries. When the dead woman walks,

she taps her fingers against collarbones outstretched

like bat wings, a stalactite’s slow drip.


iii. September

Reader, I’ve catalogued my skeleton for you.

I have no use of it now. Blind hyenas

have echolocated to find me in the belly of a cave,

and there’s too much flesh of me to wriggle free.


If you find this, take my spine, take my tibia,

all my calcified and singing parts that you may sharpen them

to spears. Don’t be sorry. Don’t fall for the trick

of the daylight; we’re still two miles underground.


You have such a long way to go.

Jacqueline Boucher lives and writes in Kansas. Her work has appeared in OcculumThe Rising Phoenix ReviewBOOTHSmokeLong QuarterlyHobart, and other magazines. Her life’s ambitions are to write a book-length love letter to Hannibal Lecter and to convince her cats to pay rent. She can be found on Twitter @jacqueboucher.

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