Shadow and Light: The Transitory

Summer, 2004

Marie Lecrivain

Larmes des os
(tears of bones)
Nothing prepares me
as I descend
into the dark,
my steps
becoming reverent.
I enter a tunnel
so narrow, only
the conscious inflation
of my lungs
reassures me
I'm still
three dimensional.

In this labyrinth
the bones of the deceased
are precariously
piled high
in convex rows, topped with
gruesome visages
that smile under
sodium lights. I force
back the bile
erupting up my throat,
scolding myself
for thinking it
would be a lark to
visit this necrotic freak-show.

My tourist book
says Parisians often run
drunk through these
claustrophobic passageways,
and steal bones as
trophies for
their daring whimsy.

It's quiet.

I listen for the voices of the
couple a few hundred
meters in front of me. Their
nervous laughter bounces
off these walls like
canaries in a coalmine,
searching for
their way back to the
sun. It soon fades, and
I am alone
among the dead.

It's so quiet
now. I fancy
I can hear
the nursery rhymes
I sang
as a child,
but they
are drowned out
by the monotonous
sound of many drops
gathering off these bones
and the walls
into puddles
on the ground.

These bones weep,
from the injustice of
being ripped out of
their cradles in
Mother Earth, interred
in this place where
all their memories
and dreams become tangled
into Gordian knots.

They long for
the privacy
of the grave, where
departed souls
can reminisce of
life undisturbed, until
their remains turn to ash.

These bones weep
away the last
colors of love, leached to
a dirty gray from disappointment
and frustration.

One drop of death
onto my left shoulder.
The hollowed
ocular cavities of
a skull sheds
its laborious, glacial stream
of loss. I'm
helpless, transfixed, and
with the rest.