Capella dos Ossos

(Does anyone feel up to a bullfight and a visit to the catacombs? Reading this poet has become an evening ritual for me…)



(Chapel of Bones, Evora )

They drew blood from the bull’s body, stretching him,
broken, over golden sand: a playground for the gods.
His one horn, splintered, plowed into the arena,
his other horn pointed skywards: a finger of wrath.

Cannibal red and carnival yellow, his blood and urine
spilled for the drunken pleasure for which we had paid.
We had also paid for bands and martial music; a Mexican
wave swept rhythmically over the bullring to enliven us.

Later that day we gave warm coins to the tour guide.
She counted the whites of our astonished eyes and divided
the total by two as we stepped from the air-conditioned bus.

The chapel’s slaughterhouse stench overcame us.
Bone after human bone thrust out from the ossuary walls:
a generation of tarnished hands held out to greet us.

This poem is a golden oldie, published way back…

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19 thoughts on “Capella dos Ossos

    • 1983—I had just met and fallen in love with New England for the very first time😌!! S-i-g-h…I was a young woman of 29. So long ago…….

      It’s good to know you, too, “fellow old fossil”!!😁

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      • Yes…and right now is the beginning of “frost on the pumpkin” season there, as one of my oldest friends tagged it, many years ago!

        We’ve had early morning t’storms the past few days, but no relief from the heat…and no lovely colours to break up the green. One of our neighbours, though, has a solitary Japanese Maple in his front yard…the only concession to autumn colours, usually around mid-October. So right now, I’d even welcome dull, muted colours with no sparkle, as long as that colour is far removed from dry, heat-stricken green 😕😳

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      • The Japanese Maples are lovely. Our maples are just turning and the Sumac will soon follow. The birches are taking on a yellow tinge … not a vivid landscape yet, though. But it soon will be. Our Thanks giving is October 10, this year (always a month before yours) and within two weeks it will be a fairyland.


      • I remember the the fall brilliance of the maples in Connecticut and Rhode Island…but all the flora would take your breath away when they started singing their wondrous colours! And then the white birch, with their dark streaks…they looked like so many dash marks against the snow!! But for the stands of birch, North Carolina was – IS – the same. I MISS my winter wonderlands 😦

        You know, I learned long ago that Thanksgiving in November was a US thing and that other countries and/or cultures had their own celebrations. But I never realized that yours was in October!

        I will dread our Thanksgiving day if the weather doesn’t cool down an awful lot by November…I HATE firing up the oven when it’s 75° or more!!

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      • There is a touch of poetry here, Pearl, and very genuine it is too. Flora … singing their wondrous colours … white birch … dash marks against the snow … As for Thanksgiving, it is, of course, the medieval (and earlier) European harvest home. “Al is safely gathered in, e’er the winter storms begin.”

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      • (thank you, Mr. M! I’ve penned a fair bit of proetry and p’ose 😀 I actually have a handwritten journal of a little over 100, tho’ not nearly in your class! Meh…maybe one of these days I’ll self-pub it!!)

        I remember that hymn! It was the very first song of Thanksgiving I ever learned when I was but a wee tyke testing my vocal trills in Sunday School!! How is it that I never wondered about its origin…ah well, I have been known to slip up in the curiosity region now and again!!

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      • I agree. I have a thick enough skin to ask for advice and suggestions during the whole self-pub/indie author process, but I don’t think I have what it takes to handle a truckload of rejection letters!

        I am a perfectionist when it comes down to the written word…thanks to Mama 🙂 …and I do my utmost to at least make whatever I produce LOOK like it has undergone professional polish. Self publishing has enabled me to reach a goal I fear I might never have attained otherwise.

        By the way, I was looking at your Amazon books…I really love that butterfly for your Obsidian’s Edge – Book 2. It’s really beautiful 🙂

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      • It’s a genuine Oaxacan butterfly given to us by a friend. We place it out on the front porch during the summer months along with my red and green iguana … Clare did that cover … our best yet, I think, except for the original Monkey Temple.

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      • She has an unbelievable eye. I love that the simplicity is so…I don’t know…it invites study? Almost like a display case that is fully loaded with intricate tchotchkes invites deeper examination. How does she DO that??!!

        The colours on the wings are so intense…you should share a picture of flutterbye and iguana together!!

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      • He’s very difficult to translate, but well worth the effort. “En la noche, plati-noche, noche que noche nochera” … rhythmic, beautiful, and totally unstranslateable … The House of Bernarda Alba is possibly his best play and he’s more accessible in the theatre than he is in the more complicated poetry. Blood Wedding is good too.

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