They have lasting power. Meat rots, flesh falls, bones stick around and tell stories whether we want to hear them or not. I can trace the lines of your skull with my fingers. When you smile, I can imagine the skin peeling back to glimpse the rictus below. There is a note within the sound that bones make when they clatter together. Strange, moody wind chimes both haunting and familiar. I suppose that’s kind of the definition of haunting, isn’t it? This reminder of something familiar which we can’t let go of. Whether it’s something that haunts due to how we behaved or an accidental stumbling into a housing development built on an ancient burial ground is reliant on the script, I suppose.
But the premise is the same. Bones tell stories, they carry history in tangible ways that words don’t, not as readily and unapologetically. Stories might not be true, bones are proof of life, of existence, of cycles playing out in the most natural way they can. From dust to dust. They carry terror because they remind us of the fallibility we face, the inevitable. Perhaps some people find them horrifying because they are a great equalizer. All the fancy hairstyles and makeup tips don’t mean much to a skeleton. People attempt to maintain a level of status they held in life with grand mausoleums, with impressive burial mounds, with headstones and tombstones and sarcophagi and ossuaries but it is relatively difficult to match the titan of industry to the clackity pile of calcified cartilage.
They are structure, they are form. They keep us walking tall and let us take shape, yet we barely acknowledge them until they break. We’re all about muscles, tendons, blood vessels and organs. Consumed with the meat of ourselves, without any consideration for what makes all those things able to cohesively function. And when we’re done, they stay, patiently waiting for oblivion, to be absorbed by time.
Something we use to scare each other is the most integral part of us.
We are haunted by our selves, from the inside out.
Featured Image is Dance the Night Away by Junaid Mortimer