The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Thursday and Catacombs of Paris

Lines on a Skull
By Ravi Shankar

(Haiku Erasure of Lord Byron's "Lines Inscribed Upon a Cup Formed from a Skull")

Start spirit; behold
the skull. A living head loved
earth. My bones resign

the worm, lips to hold
sparkling grape's slimy circle,
shape of reptile's food.

Where wit shone of shine,
when our brains are substitute,
like me, with the dead,

life's little, our heads
sad. Redeemed and wasting clay
this chance. Be of use.


Once again I had to get up and out early for routine medical reasons, though at least I didn't have to have an empty stomach or get stabbed by needles (and I did have a hilarious conversation with my GYN about the state of pubic hair among women over 40). Then I did some shopping, came home to do some work, folded some laundry, and took care of a sick cat, though she seems to be recovered now. We caught up on John Oliver's show (I'd seen clips on Tumblr of the American Samoa and NCAA athletes reports) before this week's Nashville, which has got to do a better job with Layla if Sadie's storyline is going to be so predictable.

Visitors have to descend 130 very narrow winding steps in the former city gate to reach the Catacombs of Paris, walking through nearly a mile of tunnels to reach the underground boneyards cleared from dangerous city cemeteries in the early 1800s. The head of the Paris mine inspection service, who renovated the old mines into an ossuary, instructed workers to stack the bones and skulls in patterns with religious and decorative significance. The effect is both chilling and awe-inspiring -- dark, damp rooms that go on and on, full of what's left of generations of ordinary people who died of starvation, illness, war, plague, and every other privation.


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