Jessica Goodfellow


Paleolithic and pentatonic, hollow as the cave it was found in,
the wing bone of a vulture fashioned into a five-holed flute
bears tiny etched lines that hint at prototype, imply design,
suggest a sound track to the ghost ship of our collective past.

Who among us does not long to seize this ancient flute and press it
to our madder lips, and blow with all the lopsided breath of our lungs,
our fingerprints aflutter above the holes our history has fallen through?

Have you heard hymns being sung while hallowed cathedrals burn,
the songs dying out before the flames do? If music is defined as organized
sound, the chaos we sing against is longer. Still we sing. Still we spend
our breath on flutes, and drum on skin stretched so tight across a hollow space

it vibrates, like our bodies do when we are afraid, when we have done all
that we can do—each of us a skin over a hollow space, a hallowed space,
a vibration in a cave, bones waiting for the wind to blow between them.

Jessica Goodfellow

is the author of Whiteout (University of Alaska Press, 2017), Mendeleev’s Mandala (2015), and The Insomniac’s Weather Report (2014). Her work has appeared in Best American Poetry 2018, Scientific American, The Southern Review, and Verse Daily. A former writer-in-residence at Denali National Park and Preserve, she lives in Japan.