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"When we die again, I want to come
back as a little brown bat,” I tell the only
other person alive. We gaze at one another,
then he bites my neck. Nothing can find
us when we’re deep in our cave.
When it’s time to emerge—when
the poison arrow photons have drowned
in the waves that whack the edges of the
Earth—something spectral possesses the
stalactites and makes them moan. We fly
out over the carrion scene and remember
something from before: don’t look down.

We look up at the:
moon and wonder if it used to mean something to someone.
clouds and hate them for the watery secrets they keep.
satellites projecting advertisements and feel hungry.
stars and apologize for never learning their names.

We look down and see:
a beach littered with telephones; they’re all ringing.
thousands of beached octopuses.
plants swallowing the city whole.

We look at one another:
and fly as one; we bear our fangs
and in our eyes, we see empty mirrors.

We look inside ourselves and hope we’re more
than the sum of the maggots feasting on our flesh.

I dot my eyes with the nib of my pen.
Words are the things on the insides of my
cheeks that I chew on until my teeth rust.
He plucks his arteries like guitar strings
and when he opens his mouth to
sing, my marrow liquifies and seeps from
every orifice. He drinks. We leave seeds in
our wake that will never take root. We are
shoots that will never bear fruit. We melt
into an acidic ooze that bores holes through
the karst, leaving cavernous crevasses in our
wake. We drip gently from the cave ceiling
until we’re whole again.
I shiver and shake out my wings.



Courtney Skaggs is an MFA/MA student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where they are the Hybrid Editor for Permafrost Magazine and a DJ at KSUA. Courtney’s writing can be found in Ghost City Review, Longleaf Review, Rejection Letters, and Lammergeier Magazine. Find Courtney online at courtneyskaggs.net.
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5 Dec 2022

We found you, and you alone, in a universe that had forgotten to die.
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