Title: Skeleton Leaves

Author: Miro Bilbrough

In: Sport 11: Spring 1993

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, November 1993, Wellington

Part of: Sport

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Sport 11: Spring 1993


My cousin carried her face tilted like a parasol, always toward the sky.

I stole the crown jewel of her collection, a huge diamante leaf that shot from my gaping sleeve into the hands of my grandmother as she undressed me. Small wonder that she caught my prize: her palms were constructed like a sieve to catch—and let fall.

A child with faces growing inside her like weeds, a woman hard to attach to any: her dead perhaps, her Chopin and Jailhouse Rock, Brother Bertie reported missing in the desert of her brow. I spent years listening out for Bertie, tuning a child’s ears to death, fearing that I too might simply pass out of existence some dark night, reported missing (in the hall) like Bertie, like Florence Nightingale before me.

I stole glances in the folder of drawings that were the only visible trace of my grandmother’s mother. A woman who died incarcerated, but not before covering sheets of foolscap with wings of lead. An old woman unable to leave life until she finally peeled herself free, parted herself from the flesh, leaving only these skeleton leaves.