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I think I am decomposing.

Wrapped in the linens you brought me,
your strong mother’s hands winding them
around and around
around
and
around
until I was cocooned in a shell of flax and camphor,
bergamot and crushed honeysuckle.
Now the sacred oils slick my melting skin.
One form to another, you whispered,
and I think, one form to another, as
the linens pull tighter, squeezing my bones,
crushing them into sharp fragmented shards
like the seashells we gathered when I was a child,
still living in a child’s form.

You never told me I would be awake.
You never told me I would be aware

as the oils seep in between the atoms of my body,
stretching them apart,
whispering to the strands of my DNA that
it is time, now, to let go of my youth, so
careless and ephemeral, with a body to match,
a body never meant to be eternal.
It is time for me to turn hard and beautiful,
an indestructible thing who can bear the
horrors of the universe on her shoulders.
Skin like stone armor,
teeth like glass daggers,
eyes like red suns.

In a month’s time,
when your strong mother’s hands peel the
linens away, I will be transformed:
No longer your daughter
but a soldier
a weapon
an act of violence.

Until that moment comes, I am
nothing but genetic matter. The only
stage of my life when
I am nothing but myself.



Cassandra Rose Clarke grew up in south Texas and currently lives in a suburb of Houston, where she writes and teaches composition at a pair of local colleges. She holds an M.A. in creative writing from The University of Texas at Austin, and in 2010 she attended the Clarion West Writer’s Workshop in Seattle. Her work has been nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award, the Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award, and YALSA's Best Fiction for Young Adults. Her latest novel is Star's End, forthcoming from Saga Press. Visit her online at www.cassandraroseclarke.com
Current Issue
17 Jan 2022

The land burns so hot and high tonight that Let can see its orange glow even from the heart of The City of Birds. It burns so thick she can taste the whole year’s growth of leaves and branches on her lips. It burns so fast she can almost hear the deer and cottontails scream as flames outrun them and devour them whole.
I writhe in bed with fever, chills, chatters and shivers. The near becomes far as the far comes close.
No one gets married before going to space.
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