Of His Bones Are Coral Made

Frank Bidart
FSG Poetry Month / Daily Poem

He still trolled books, films, gossip, his own
past, searching not just for

ideas that dissect the mountain that

in his early old age he is almost convinced
cannot be dissected:

he searched for stories:

stories the pattern of whose
knot dimly traces the pattern of his own:

what is intolerable in

the world, which is to say
intolerable in himself, ingested, digested:

the stories that

haunt each of us, for each of us
rip open the mountain.


the creature smothered in death clothes

dragging into the forest
bodies he killed to make meaning

the woman who found that she

to her bewilderment and horror
had a body


As if certain algae

that keep islands of skeletons
alive, that make living rock from

trash, from carcasses left behind by others,

as if algae
were to produce out of

themselves and what they most fear

the detritus over whose
kingdom they preside: the burning

fountain is the imagination

within us that ingests and by its
devouring generates

what is most antithetical to itself:

it returns the intolerable as
brilliant dream, visible, opaque,

teasing analysis:

makes from what you find hardest to
swallow, most indigestible, your food.

‘Of His Bones Are Coral Made’ is excerpted from Metaphysical Dog.

Chosen for FSG Poetry Month by Garth Greenwell.
Frank Bidart’s most recent full-length collections of poetry are Watching the Spring Festival (FSG, 2008), Star Dust (FSG, 2005), Desire (FSG, 1997), and In the Western Night: Collected Poems 1965–90 (FSG, 1990). He has won many prizes, including the Wallace Stevens Award, the 2007 Bollingen Prize for American Poetry, and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Metaphysical Dog. He teaches at Wellesley College.


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