Flashlights in hand,
down we go into the catacombs,
a nervous step or two behind the guide.
Basilica above, burial chamber below.
We see the roots of our past here,
the crumbling cenotaphs of future.
With all this bone about we feel guilty to be in our skins.
Our guide mixes up solemnity
with jokes that don’t translate
so well in English.
One moment, he intones deeply
like a monk.
Then he breaks the silence
with a boisterous guffaw.
If we were among the living,
his laugh would wake the dead
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New Plains Review, Stillwater Review and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Columbia College Literary Review and Spoon River Poetry Review.