David Peak

Shape of a Ribcage

On the bridge I watched a man-sized bird balance a row of neatly-lined human skulls, stopping a beat to beak at the white worms wriggling in those empty sockets, those of nose and eyes. The bird craned low its long neck and pecked, inspected, pecked, one-by-one down the line, each time stopping a beat to admire—or maybe consider—the neatly-lined rows of teeth.

The bridge is a suspension bridge suspended between two bluffy cliffs, deep-down bottom dropped out, a body gorged, belly rusting with the broken-down bodies of bombers, Second World War or something thereafter. Weather blazes a backward trail, blazed and baking sun a setting, a shadow fanning imprint in the mud, or an impression of the weight of extinction. The crushing shape of a ribcage.

History impresses its weight on the spine of the scoliosis codex. Each passing day a new layer of skin spans over the redraw, a new dead layer of skin to tusk at shed exoskeletons. And each passing day is a lesson: how to mask the crippled limp; withstand the concussions of trench warfare. Curled into the center is all our tension, suspended—the cardinal point of free fall, from which to make our leap.

David Peak lives in the middle of the woods where he collects and cleans guns. He frequently deletes his blog at

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