by Aaron Mitton
Let us give thanks to archaic Parisians
who saved deep earth the mundane task
of digesting their bodies.
Let us learn from them
a cold, but effective catharsis.
We shall build our basements
of mortar and skulls, so that when we go down
to inspect the fuse-box
we taste the moldering breath of a million
stripped men, moon-white, grinning at our alien lanterns
as though years in the darkness made lunatics of them.
Let us feel conﬁned
to our homes’ narrow halls
by investing in them
the remains of our ancestors.
Let us make repositories of our china cabinets
and put ﬁngerbone relics on bric-a-brac shelves.
I know the allure of remaining soft hosts.
We’ve all invited the neighbors to dinner
and returned into them the Merlot they offered us at the door.
I know how in the drunkenness that follows,
the passive denial slips out through our slurs;
how we laugh, open-mouthed
so as not to expose any hint of our small bones.
how much time we have spent scouring
the traces of decay from our bathrooms and our ﬂesh
is the time we’ve stood still resisting the song of the silenced,
only to find that standing still
is the dance.
I have seen gorgeous white birds, paper-thin
fold and unfold across luminous skies
and I have witnessed the shadows they cast
rushing like black cats from root to root,
valley to valley,
intangible, persistent, eternal.
That is why it is good to exhume the graves of your loved ones,
or ones you wanted to love.
Place their skulls on the table
and ask them questions. Ask them why
in this life, you should know the hunger of the shadow
that holds your heels while standing
and grinds against the rest of you
while you are lying down.