The House of Bones

(For Tom Lord)


I live in a house of bones.

Past generations inhabit the floors below.

My father’s scapula,

The femur of my grandfather,

Countless ancestral skeletons

Lie beneath me.

Even my brother’s skull is there.

They all support me

Here on the top floor.

Because of them I can watch

The sun set on the horizon.

But they are a terrible weight to carry.

I cannot do it alone.

The temptation is to put them all in glass boxes

On display for all to see

But none to touch.

Safe but dead.

A memory.

A shadow.

I need your help

To make those bones rattle and dance

So that hyena stalk through our wild flower meadows

Lions bask in our midsummer sun

Cave bears suckle their young in our hills

Wolves lope across our limestone pavements

And lynx carry our message to the Gods:

“We have not forgotten you.

We are sorry.

This has just been a terrible mistake.

We are here now.

We have remembered.

Together we will put things right.

Together we will learn to live well in this house of bones.”


  1. I have often mused how this planet is a planet of death in that the very soil we rely upon for food is made up of dead or decaying things. On the other hand it is also a planet of life because alongside those dead and decaying things are vigorous life forms growing and multiplying.

    Nice poem. It makes me think.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks Renee. The poem was inspired by an amazing weekend at the farm belonging to Tom Lord (the person to whom the poem is dedicated). Tom is a farmer and archaeologist. He has an amazing collection of finds from caves that litter the hills surrounding his farm including the bones of several prehistoric predators. He literally lives in a house of bones. We were lucky enough to hold these bones and work with them over the weekend. I was fascinated by the idea that lion, hyena, wolf, bear and lynx once roamed freely on the hills of Northern England and wondered how the knowledge that you are not the apex predator impacts upon your relationship to the world around you. Here in England, we are very complacent in our conviction that nothing in Nature is more powerful than us. A foolish thought.

    Liked by 1 person

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