I recently watched (and was totally blown away by) I’m Thinking of Ending Things, a Netflix film. I read and loved the book, but it’s worth noting that rather than deliver a straight screen adaptation of Iain Reid’s unsettling novel, writer-director Charlie Kaufman instead focusses on the book’s underlying theme – as Rolling Stone’s David Fear notes:

“[Kaufman] has located something at the heart of Reid’s story that he elevates from subtext to primary concern, about the way regrets have a way of eclipsing the bright spots of a life.”

The film is funny, unsettling, and devastating by turn.

Thanks to watching that film, I came across the poem Bonedog by Eva H.D. It’s recited by the “young woman” character (it’s never entirely clear what her name is), to Jake (her boyfriend). When Jake tells her how he feels about the poem, the young woman comments:

There’s universality in the specific

~Young Woman, I’m Thinking of Ending Things

You can read the poem in full below:

Bonedog by Eva H.D.

Coming home is terrible
whether the dogs lick your face or not;
whether you have a wife
or just a wife-shaped loneliness waiting for you.
Coming home is terribly lonely,
so that you think
of the oppressive barometric pressure
back where you have just come from
with fondness,
because everything’s worse
once you’re home.

You think of the vermin
clinging to the grass stalks,
long hours on the road,
roadside assistance and ice creams,
and the peculiar shapes of
certain clouds and silences
with longing because you did not want to return.
Coming home is
just awful.

And the home-style silences and clouds
contribute to nothing
but the general malaise.
Clouds, such as they are,
are in fact suspect,
and made from a different material
than those you left behind.
You yourself were cut
from a different cloudy cloth,
ill-met by moonlight,
unhappy to be back,
slack in all the wrong spots,
seamy suit of clothes
dishrag-ratty, worn.

You return home
moon-landed, foreign;
the Earth’s gravitational pull
an effort now redoubled,
dragging your shoelaces loose
and your shoulders
etching deeper the stanza
of worry on your forehead.
You return home deepened,
a parched well linked to tomorrow
by a frail strand of…

Anyway . . .

You sigh into the onslaught of identical days.
One might as well, at a time . . .

Well . . .
Anyway . . .
You’re back.

The sun goes up and down
like a tired whore,
the weather immobile
like a broken limb
while you just keep getting older.
Nothing moves but
the shifting tides of salt in your body.
Your vision blears.
You carry your weather with you,
the big blue whale,
a skeletal darkness.

You come back
with X-ray vision.
Your eyes have become a hunger.
You come home with your mutant gifts
to a house of bone.
Everything you see now,
all of it: bone.

Bonedog is taken from a collection called Perfect Rotten Mouth. I will definitely be purchasing myself a copy.

Header photo by Umberto Shaw.

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