Mary Biddinger is the author of five full-length collections of poetry, most recently Small Enterprise (Black Lawrence Press, 2015) and The Czar (with Jay Robinson, Black Lawrence Press, 2016). Her work has appeared in Denver Quarterly, Five Points, Green Mountains Review, jubilat, The Laurel Review, and Pleiades, among others. She is the recipient of a 2015 National Endowment for the Arts creative writing fellowship in poetry, and recently completed a book-length volume of prose poems. Biddinger teaches creative writing and literature at the University of Akron, where she edits the Akron Series in Poetry.
By the end of the night I felt like a hay fire. Like a parent who had pulled several children in a wagon not out of suburban playfulness but urgent city fleeing. When the doorbell rings, I still hit the floor. Maybe I don't know better. Haven't quit drinking soda. Will walk on nearly any surface without shoes. Pack my mouth with the generic snack cakes all the experts rail against these days. My mother put bags on my feet before I slid them into last year's boots, and if that's a problem, then try eight hours in the damp versus eight hours of unbreathable calm. Sometimes a day of rain is better than a week of pure sun. Especially when you don't reach the end of the bed unless you want to. Footsteps upstairs nothing like hail but still comforting, knowing a scream could eventually twist to reach someone. When choosing clothes, I think of what will least bother my bones, most resemble a sail.
"Bone Concept" hangs out in the space between pleasant nostalgia and bad memory, and hopes to show the transience between those categories. I was thinking about how our habits are formed by our childhoods. It never occurred to me that knockoff Little Debbies might be considered "not real food" by people with different upbringings from mine. Sometimes I see suburban folks pulling their kids in wagons for fun; those kids don't have groceries stacked around them in shabby bags. I consider things I've taught my children, like when there's a knock at the door to immediately hide, and wonder if it's my duty to share this advice even if they're enjoying a different kind of safety. Many of my poems begin with some kind of question. For "Bone Concept," it was about urgency, and survival. Do we ever stop actively trying to survive, even when we aren't in discernible danger? This poem hopes to address that question.