“The smell of death here was overpowering. In fact, you could often gauge whether there were many or few bodies not only by the smell — which was so pungent that it almost provided a weird high, an asphyxiation, because your body didn’t want to process it — but by the little tornadoes of flies swarming into cracks in the rubble.” –Keith Marlowe writing for Life magazine talking about his photo of the collapsed Catherine Flon High School.
How will we find these pockets of bodies nestled like jewels
in underground caverns,
eyes teeth and blood glittering
in the lantern light?
These gems have not been formed
in the bowels of the earth
over millions of inhuman years
only a decade or so ago sprung
from mothers’ wombs and mothers’ arms
days ago pressed between layers of concrete
and plaster, the words shaken from the textbooks:
Les murs, plafonds, bureau, la mort, tremblement de terre.
The flies will lead us, masked and creeping, to these
strangely shrunken chambers– air, skin and bone
condensed to wafers, our tongues stick to the roof
of our mouths, eyes roll heavenward and stomachs
contract until nothing is left by the scent of spirits
so thick in the air.