Miriam Feder home



I was walking to the edge of town. I knew there would be a spot beyond which there was nothing—just a bleak landscape baked in nature’s forgotten oven.  These days, it ends after an apartment complex. The building must be fairly new, but the dry wind is already challenging the thin paint.  Why would someone paint this building gray? It’ll get there soon enough. For a little while some golden paint could have stretched out the amazing sunsets.

Beyond the fence I see bones still joined up along a spine—ribs and a pelvis.  I look around to see who might own this bit of treasure. Someone must have already claimed it. But no. In a Georgia-O’Keefe-moment it becomes mine. It looks safe: there’s no meat on these bones; there’s nothing gross left. It’s too light and fine to be a cow; maybe it’s a deer or an antelope. A dog probably dragged it in from the endless mesa.

What a mirror for my own skeleton. I probably owe my skeleton one of those letters Alice would send to her body parts when she was growing and shrinking in wonderland. “Dear Skeleton, thanks for your articulation and support. With love and plenty of Advil, Me.”

I have to walk about a mile with the skeleton. I try to hang it casually from the end of my hand, as if it were just my arm swinging with my step. I have to be careful not to scrape the ground with it. I should try to tuck it a little closer into my body. There now, there’s nothing so odd about carrying a large mammalian skeleton through the nice residential part of town. Not until a car comes in the opposite direction, that is.

Actually, just the act of walking on these pleasant streets is a little odd. This is oil country—the Permian basin. Car lovers; when they drive by they honk or call-out and wave. They’re Texans; they’re West Texans.

“Hey Roy, who’s the girl with the dead animal. D’ya know?”

Thank goodness I have the keys to my rental car with me. I can just drop the skeleton into the trunk on my way into the house. That way I don’t have to explain it to my elderly host and hostess.  And I forget all about the thing until I’m almost ready to return the rental, several days later, three hundred miles up the road.

I ask my next hostess: “Amanda, could I bother you for a large garbage bag?” She needs an explanation.

“I picked up this skeleton walking around Stockton. Do you want to see it? It’s pretty cool.”

Amanda and her husband are retired scientists. A skeleton’s not so weird, is it? She was curious; her husband was slightly mortified. He wanted no part of it, at least not until we were admiring the bones with the neighbors in the cul-de-sac. Then he finally had to have a gander.

“Be sure to wash your hands really well”  he reminded.

“Thanks, bye….”

I’ve got a bag. But how am I going to get this thing home? The TSA doesn’t ask about skeletons or bones.  They must be okay. What am I going to do with it when I get home?

I’ll hang it on the deck, I guess. It’s a trophy.