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Clade Song 13

Ode to Something Dead I Cannot Name Nor Return Home

It must be so easy to die.
Forgive my bluntness, and the morbid
privilege that allows me tell to you what you already
know. But even I, a creature who has survived 200,000 years
of evolution, I am
fragile. There are so many ways to break

a bone. My kind, we build tall things, promise we won’t be
spiders trying to reach the top of the waterspout, slip
off the lip of generations, halfway up, halfway
down, burying bombshells
so we don’t blow ourselves
away. And here I am talking to you, nameless
and imagine if I had been the one
ambling so far from home.

We like to think it was over
quickly, that you didn’t lie there bisected
by the grasses, heavy with heat and a four-pound
heart. What we want is immediate
absolution, bullet right
between the eyes a mercy. I doubt
many of us will be dealt the same grace
when we go. Likely, the fires

will take us first. At this point mercy
barely barters a headstone, our bodies
unsinkable, resurfacing in waterlogged
soil, unmarked and
unknown. Maybe better rotting
in the river valley, your flesh in every
carrion bird.

What I’m saying is,
we’re so much and then we’re nothing, red
sky, cottonwood
desperation. 200,000 years of evolution, and we learned
how to anesthetize death. Bring us back
the vulture, the thing that knows every
body is a miracle.

What I’m saying is I’m sorry, but
I don’t want to end up like you,
stiff roadkill doll
of a cow on the side of the gravel pullout,


Briana Lubinski is from the sagebrush desert of eastern Washington but currently studying creative writing and Spanish on the Pacific coast at Western Washington University. Her work generally focuses on place, nostalgia, and all things living, dead, or somewhere in between. Her writing has appeared in the Scribendi and Jeopardy magazines, and she is currently working on her first poetry chapbook, which will likely go aggressively untitled until the last minute. She is a rock climber, nature enthusiast, and lover of objectively bad movies.