by Lucy Kershen

This earth is made of old bones
And one day I will die
Bury me in the backwoods creek
So that my soul may fly

Fill my lungs with raindrops
Wrap my wrists with vines
Face my sightless sockets
Towards the aspens and the pines

Cover me in flower seeds
And let my flesh decay
Cloak my corpse in soil
Till my features rot away

Shroud my skin in shadow
Lay lilies on my grave
Then leave me in my stillness
And still I’ll always stay

I need not live forever
For forever is a curse
And when my life is over
Let earth and sky rejoice

For each old bone supports new life
Of which they freely give
Let my body be a vessel
So that through me, more may live

So may my flesh grow flowers
That in their time bear seeds
To feed the deer that feed the folk
Among whom once was me

For this world is a cycle
Around and round it goes
And only one thing’s certain:
Soon, we all will be old bones.


Note: “Old Bones” won the Grand Prize in its original form in the River of Words poetry contest at St. Mary’s College of California. This is a slightly revised version.

Image via Pexels by Ivan Samkov