Good Bones

“We now know that the odds of the big Cascadia earthquake happening in the next fifty years are roughly one in three. The odds of the very big one are roughly one in ten.”
“The Really Big One”
Katherine Schultz

I can already make out
inside this house
the ruined house beneath,
the simple physics of extinction
untethered from ghosts,
the house beneath the house
pancaked by the weight
of its own certainty,
busted rafters,
concrete returned to the verity of dust,
good bones bent
to the contours of the hill
on which all of our dreams
were once perched.

That’s my girl.
I would recognize her silhouette
backlit by the bonfires
as she gathers kindling
in the freeway median.
We swing our arms
Jack and Jillish
all the way back to
VEritable vILLage
the name that came to stick
and end up before the tent
that now serves as home
pitched in the junior high soccer field,
alongside all of the others,
another nubby shadow,
our numbers our strength
a bulwark against
the marauders,
the packs of feral dogs
that the long nights draw out,
the brick and mortar of bombast
and every night
the sonic boom designed
to buoy our spirits
punctuates our longing.

By morning I slip off
to the emptiness
where the house stood
and come upon
your sundress motionless
on the laundry line
six rainy days running.
Once the foot is planted
there is no turning back—
that was your father’s line.
the ruined house…
just a conceit
the ruined house inside the breathing house…
a smart ass metaphor
the house we choose not to see teetering…
the opening line of a song
that might yet memorialize the inevitable

Christopher T. Keaveney teaches Japanese and Asian Cultural Studies at Linfield College in Oregon. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Spoon River Poetry Review, Columbia Review, Cardiff Review, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review and elsewhere. He is the author of the collection Your Eureka Not Mined (Broadstone Books, 2017).