Capela dos Ossos

January 1, 2011

“I’m looking,” said Janus, the god with two faces, “I got both faces looking but they ain’t seeing much.  Way back and up ahead, nothin’ but fog. Back there’s all foggy with palaver, up ahead’s just plain thick  as it’s ever been.

Looks like you’re it again, so watch where you’re goin’ —you’ll be comin’ to a church of bones.”…. —from The Tales of Father Time, by Gus Wen
Capela dos Ossos
  —Church of Bones, Evora Portugal

We pray in a church of bones
in which skulls outline graceful arches
of low vaults and whose columns are ladders
of stacked femurs. We admire its capitals
of craniums

It’s walls, unlike the idealizations
of Michelangelo,  are not fantasies
romanced in fresco but the real thing:
the stony remnants of once-respiring

We pray in a church of bones
whose windows look out
beneath an osseous calcium dome

Our chapel of once-articulating skeletons
—a reliquary of dreams—
rises over a promontory like a lighthouse
warning the world of muscle and bone,
spit and sweat, breath and blood
to steer clear of the promises of ghosts
and constantly sound to avoid being
beached in mud

We pray in a church of bones
We hope in a field of dreams
We love or hate between
unknown and unknown

by Jim Culleny
January 1, 2011


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