Three Poems by Ali Jones

Oracle Bones
It always begins with a dance,
one that goes on and on for hours,

with old women shouting and stamping
their weight. You have to dance

out of your body and cast your bones
into the blaze before the story

can be told. Open the door to the fire,
coil yourself tight to the embers,

part the shadows and peer
through the world’s fabric.

Awake, swift in the blood,
make a tent for the moon

and a drum, pitch it beyond
the everyday, at a cross roads,

where people play knuckle bones
and no one can reach around the edges.

Oracles are only every ordinary,
the magic is in the eye that seeks,

an everyday spelling of piles of stones,
stacks of beans, the unravelled yarn

in a bag, deep within, where the heart
of a dream fire never burns out.

Low head, a gleam of teeth,
she could not avoid the gaze
of green fire and mountains,
the pack with singing voices
calling to one another
through the silvered trees.

Stretch out your hand,
the moon is waiting
like a tight skinned drum,
the cold white light,
flashes of stars, needling
through like shards of glass.

Together they cruised
dirt road and old tracks,
in blue afternoons, searching
for something almost found
again and again.

The fretwork fingers of thorns,
the copper fire of the river bed,
the sun bleared deer, eyes
remembering panic, the faint traces
of shit and loam.

Never be late for your meeting
with the pack, beyond the trees,
in a place with no name, between
parallel lines of momentum,
from laughter to skin and bone.

Pack is all, shadows, formed
in slant light, that linger
in the blue hour, a fear
in your fabric, worn like blood
and fur. It is what we dream about
behind our names, when we fear
losing everything in the forest,
when gods step through shadows
to meet us, in the blackness
of the everyday, a pinprick away,
like something wild, tethered.

The water has taken back the land,
broken things and floated them away,

as if it were following a plan, plastic bucket
bicycle, red mouthed toy, whirling beneath

the shock headed trees and shattered rooves.
Under it, things rise to the surface,

weaving through roses and lilac,
water snails, minnows and sticklebacks

wake at night and dream their way up.
Old things dislodge to bone puzzles,

skin tremors away in the clouding dark,
and water smiles in the empty faces

of the submerged.

Ali Jones is a teacher and mother of three. Her work has appeared in Fire, Poetry Rivals, Strange Poetry, Ink Sweat and Tears, Snakeskin Poetry, Atrium, Mother’s Milk Books, Breastfeeding Matters, Breastfeeding Today and Green Parent magazine. She has also written for The Guardian. Her pamphlets Heartwood and Omega are forthcoming with Indigo Dreams Press in 2018.

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