Creaky Bones // by Doreen Phillips

Oh Mother what holds you
Crippled in pain
The joys of your children
Support from a cane?

Three baby girls freed from your hips
You speak of a true love
Released from your lips

Oh Fathers Where Art Thou
Lying in graves
Bones that are creaking
No memories made

One eyes of water
And hair like the sun
Turned over his daughter
No battle was won

One never home
The bottle his friend
Was there any love there
Or did he pretend

The obituary
Missing a piece
Of children and grands
I hear the bones creak

Who showed their faces
To hear of the will
Who had their hand out
To take of the till

Oh Mother your youngest
Let skeletons speak
I see we are half-breeds
The bones they do creak

The bones they are huddled
In heaps in the grave
Are their souls flying
And were they saved

How many confessions
Spoken in church
Or did they not mention
Three babes given birth

Oh Mother What holds you
To cradle your grief
Do you carry the burden
And hear the bones creak

Oh Mother your girls
Forgive lest forget
Do not let demons
Inhabit you yet

Give way to the marrow
That flows through your bones
And love ever after
Through our creaky bones

Reflective Essay by Doreen Phillips

My piece Creaky Bones was written about my mother and my two sisters. In late 2016 I learned my youngest sister, in her early 50’s, was fathered by someone other than my mother’s second husband. My mother, in the early throes of dementia, became obsessed with a man who she learned had passed away. She remained fairly certain he was the father of my youngest sister. A DNA test proved all three of us girls were born of three fathers, none of them present in the role of parent.

This piece speaks to my mother’s crumbling health, secrets held for decades in a family, and the power of love regardless of parental ancestry. My work in TLA and Writers for Recovery expresses the organic ways of giving voice to pent-up emotions and questions that we all face during different stages in our lives. Ultimately this piece is about forgiveness and how critical it is for creative expression to be nurtured and respected in our American society, without judgment.


Doreen Phillips has lived in Vermont for almost 19 years, raised in Indiana and previously residing in Texas, New Jersey (working in NYC for almost 7 years) and Pennsylvania before meeting her future husband in NYC who lived in Vermont. She has three grown stepdaughters and lives in Barre Town Vermont in our forever home on almost 1.3 acres. She left the big city life long ago to find peace and tranquility in her surroundings and in hopes of regaining her spirit and rekindling her hopes and strengths. She is involved in Writers for Recovery and volunteer for the Greater Barre Restorative Justice Center in the Circle of Support and Accountability Offender Reentry Program. She gives thanks to my family and friends and AA for a new lease on life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *