Painting by Schulenburg


Laurel K. Dodge


The Dead Girl Talks Back

Don't believe the lies. Falling ain't
flying. One small step into nothingness--
then regret flails and grabs
at the thin, thin sky. Grace,

absented. You don't go mercifully
blind; the earth, a benevolent curve
from up this high flattens out fast as it rushes
at you--desiring to collide

with you more than you desire to collide
with it. And the biggest lie of all:
You don't die before you hit
the ground. The last sound you hear

is the crash, your body shattered, a slammed
window, the panes rained out;
all that remains, a framed emptiness.
I found my meaning

in this riverbed. I writhed life-like
as maggots fattened on my death;
I filled the silence with the thrum
of busy insects. Each track petrified

in the mud is a mouth I fed.
Buzzards picked at my ribs, crows bickered
over gristle, coyotes skulked off
with the best bits: the heart,

the lungs, the liver. Man walking your dog,
cop, coroner, I know you mean well--
but sometimes the missing
don't want to be found. And the dead

want to be left alone, unmolested.
Look at my scavenged bones.
I'm beautiful. Leave me here. I'm part
of the landscape now.