by Anna Elkins
Beneath Rue d’Enfer, Paris
There is no weather down here. It’s old & warm,
always. The lantern light soaks into stone,
the underworld eating it whole. Every day, I descend
into this Hades to save what has been built above it.
The heaving & hefting. We turn cloches of fallen
rubble into stalagmites of stonework. One worker said
it’s as if we’re building a cathedral upside down.
For each right-side-up cathedral on the surface,
we mark its spot here below with a fleur-de-lis. We
match the tunnels to the streets above & give them
the same names. We leave the spaces beneath houses
to their owners—who own their bit of city
to the center of the earth. If they wished, they could dig
cellars to hell. Priests talk about the end of time—
how all this will burn. I can’t say why, but I do not
believe them. Meanwhile, people gather
in stained-glass masses of stones & hope.
Anna Elkins earned a BA in art and English, an MFA in poetry, and a Fulbright Fellowship to write art-inspired poetry. She has written, painted, and taught on six continents—exhibiting many paintings and publishing several books along the way, including her most recent poetry collection, Hope of Stones, from Press 53. One of Anna’s greatest joys is encouraging people to discover and delve into their creativity. annaelkins.com