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This poem is taken from PN Review 247, Volume 45 Number 5, May - June 2019.

Three Poems Lisa Kelly
Ossuary

Arrête! C’est ici l’empire de la Mort

In the queue for the Catacombs only the cold
and cursing the kids for cajoling me into this
is keeping the contents of my guts from spilling.
Behind, two German teenagers cram croissants
into their mouths, and ahead the undead     
count out coins for entry into the underworld,
one-at-a-tortuous time down the spiral stairwell
we will eventually reach, just as I will eventually
retch in my hotel bathroom.

For now, I contemplate this world of stone and bone,
the colour of maggots, relieved only by green mould
on a stacked skull. I know I can spill my guts later,
not down here with the crosses and inscriptions,
so long as I keep walking, the putting of one foot in front
...


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