“Ossuary” by Ariana Brown

Ariana Brown


(n.) a container or room into which the bones of dead people are placed. open textbook, there. my mexican history professor thinks The Establishment is a myth. open mouth, there. you just killed a woman. how do i tell him my ancestors can prove him wrong? in 2015, a mexican colonial church pushed its head above water in chiapas. the signature of wilt, written all on its front. ask my mother’s side of the family what life was like in 1564. or, ask the silence they left behind. there’s a reason i don’t know my name; it’s called colony, it’s called empire, it’s called colonial church in mexico, it’s called my vanishing history, committed to disarming/disappearing, committed to surfacing when i think i have escaped drowning. ask the river who it loves. when it doesn’t respond, split the river’s lungs. i inherited from christ the bible & the gun. i was given verse & my ugly color: gente sin razón, is this not the divinity we have learned? inside the church was found a room of plague-filled bodies. throw the textbook in the water. now it is vanishing. reverse conquer. the church was abandoned due to the big plagues of 1773 – ­1776. can i abandon my body when the church comes? how do i forgive someone who has forgiven my birth? i say, i am my own miracle. i say, how foolish to make me prove i am possible when i am still standing here. “It was a church built thinking that this could be a great population center, but it never achieved that … It probably never even had a dedicated priest.” i say, unless you have been oppressed, you don’t know what loneliness is. i cast, i spell, i name you frozen monument, black hole of the reservoir, possessed statue of white god throne, filth experiment, dramatic sea dreg; simple news story; failed conquering. with your persistent ministry, your ghost bridge to a century of gold lifted from my throat, go back where you came from, sinister. dear ossuary of my sacred saved limbs—you may scare me but you do not kill me. you do not kill me

Poets Respond
October 25, 2015

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Ariana Brown: This poem is in response to the underwater Mexican colonial church built in 1564, which, due to drought, has recently resurfaced in the reservoir in Chiapas.” (website)

Note: This poem has been published exclusively online as part of a project in which poets respond to current events. A poem written within the last week about an event that occurred within the last week will appear every Sunday at Rattle.com. Our only criterion for selection is the quality of the poem, not its editorial position; any opinions expressed are solely those of the poet and do not necessarily reflect those of Rattle’s editors. To read poems from past weeks, visit the Poets Respond page. Interact on our Facebook group. To have a poem considered for next week’s posting, submit it here before midnight Friday PST.

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