My pliable child bones
survived falls from trees,
roller-skate blows to the knees,
the punch of hard earth under grass
after runaway gallops. Those bones
suffered nary a fracture or chip.
My adult bones were silent and stoic,
endured the concussion and clout
of the athletic field, obeyed my directives
to lower and lift, pull and push,
reach and twist. Extremes of movement
no worse than lack of action.
My aging bones tattle like toddlers
in the language of lumbar and sacrum,
of ball and socket, cartilage, disk.
“I’m shuffling along like a geezer,”
my father complained, revolted still more
by the pipe of his new old-man voice.
The day my hip was replaced
I marked his 123rd birthday.
I was humbled. I bowed
to the cobalt and chromium proxy
enthroned in my hip. I went home
adorned with a bandage of silver.
Quite miraculous, really, this intercession.
But illusory, interim only. No royal decree
or divine intervention will stay my conversion
to dust. Because even these bones,
my own bones—first to form, last to go—
must one day dissolve.
bless your bloody little hearts,
take your time. Take every one
of your possible three hundred years,
dear old bones, to be undermined
In 2002, Sharon Whitehill retired as a professor of English at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. She now lives in Florida, where she finds satisfaction in writing poetry for the first time; previously she had published only prose: scholarly biographies, essays, articles, and memoir. “Osteopoeosis,” an invented word combining “bone” and “poem,” was inspired by a recent hip replacement.