Bone Builders

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Bone Builders

In Rome, there is a chapel made of bone—
and what ingenious builders who first saw
a second use for each remaindered part,
old planks and joints we leave when we are gone,
so built their holy spaces with an awe
for bodies’ grimmest afterlife as art.

The femur makes the longest cut of timber
while slender rib bones swoop in lovely curves,
and blunt phalanges do for detail work.
The ghastly skull is there to help remember
past functions of this scaffolding, and serves
as prelude, like the shadow men who lurk

in myth collecting teeth from childhood beds
then trail us, pockets clacking, through our heads.