Memento mori, by Ana Reisens

            Quello che siete, noi eravamo.
            Quello che siamo, voi sarete.
            What you are, we were.
            What we are, you will be.

            -Placard in the Capuchin Crypt, Rome


The descent begins as the wind ends
              and Rome dims,

just beneath the pavement
              where time dangles

from the invisible hands
              of tissues

tibia, fibula, femurs,
              lateral, lacrimal, incus,

phalanges, clavicle, skulls
              scapula, trapeziums



from walls
             of stone

and bodies
             of bone

an open

of decay.


Bones don’t groan
or grumble. They moan
and hum Gregorian cries
to the lucky-to-be-alive –

sacred psalms of sockets
and skin, macabre drones
of melodic tones woven
into cartilage and echoes.


At the end of the hall,
a dusty mound

cradles the remains
of a crumbling

mother’s child,
its eyes wide

with warning:
seize life

but bones
are poetry.

Ana Reisens is a poetry farmer. Born and raised in the Midwest, she now tends to her crop in the sun-bathed soil of Spain. She was the recipient of the 2020 Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry Award, and you can find her poetry sprouting in The Belmont Story Review and the Fresher Press anthology Winding Roads, among other places.

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