Bone Map

Sara Eliza Johnson’s stunning, deeply visceral first collection, Bone Map (2013 National Poetry Series Winner), pulls shards of tenderness from a world on the verge of collapse, where violence and terror infuse the body, the landscape, and dreams: a handful of blackberries offered from bloodied arms, bee stings likened to pulses of sunlight, a honeycomb of marrow exposed. “All moments will shine if you cut them open. / Will glisten like entrails in the sun.” With figurative language that makes long, associative leaps, and with metaphors and images that continually resurrect themselves across poems, the collection builds and transforms its world through a locomotive echo—a regenerative force—that comes to parallel the psychic quest for redemption that unfolds in its second half. The result is a deeply affecting composition that will establish the already decorated young author as an important and vital new voice in American poetry.

Buy this book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Milkweed | Indiebound

Selected by

Martha Collins





In the forest, the owl releases a boneless cry.
I know the names of things here
and I can hold them.
I hold your hand:
a matryoshka opening deeper
until I hear your bones
singing into mine,
and feel the moon

as it rolls through you
like a great city before a war
where it has been night for so long
that everyone sees
with their hands
and then somewhere in the city
a newborn animal
shakes the dust off itself

and stands, makes
a thimbleful of sound,
and a boy standing in the square
turns toward it,
and his father, not knowing
what his hands will be made to do
to other men,
places a hand on his head.