Kennewick Elegy | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian
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Kennewick Elegy

A new poem about the famous skeleton by Amit Majmudar

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He launched his body’s burnished bone spears

    beyond the race to a point beyond despair,

        what broke in him, broken open, like a spore.
 

Prior to everything but pang and prayer,

    he watches us inside a stillness freer

        than all the speed that harries us through the air.
 

His mind unknowable, his face unknown,

    the part that lasts was in between them: Bones

        that die hard let us know him for our own.
 

His rise is a promise we will not go under

    the jackhammer rain or river’s power sander

        but take more killing than a death can render
 

because we are the pearl and pit of matter,

    infinite mind in a rind of dura mater

        the hardest thing that matter ever mothered,
 

our historiography of wounds

    graven deeper than the flighty winds

        that make a rubbing of our eloquence.

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