Winter 2022 - Poetry

Anne Marie Wells

Not Meant for Catacombs

“The cemetery of Camogli is one of the most popular in the area because of its location on the touristy Italian Riviera, in a historic harbour town.” (EuroNews, Feb. 23, 2021)

 

An Italian,

cliffside cemetery

collapsed in a landslide,

releasing two hundred

coffins into the brackish

abyss below. Le famiglie

of the deceased grieved

the skeletons lost at sea,

mourned the ossified minerals

wrapped in silk suits and lace

dresses, that once gave form

to loved ones’ flesh, unaware

the fall was a graveyard plot.

All along the weight of two hundred

spirits yearned to taste the salt on their teeth

until their teeth were no more. Their laments

went unheard by the carnate, but convinced the dirt

they weren’t meant for catacombs, and, wanting to be

fated like i capitani, crumbled the cobbles, spilled their dust

and bone into a Ligurian tomb and sank with their ship. But

if one with a keen ear tried, one might have uncovered a wisp

of air quavering after the rumble. Let us dance in the water. Let

the kelp tickle our toes. Let our children and their children and theirs

search for our jaws and joints, softened by time and sand, like shells along the shore.

 


 Anne Marie Wells (She | They) is a queer poet, playwright, and storyteller navigating the world with a chronic illness. She is a faculty member of the Community Literature Initiative with the Sims Library of Poetry.

 


 

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This project is partially supported by the Illinois Arts Council

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  © Ninth Letter, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.