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After we have left this world, after we have taken to the sky
or perished or a combination of both, after the planet has

healed itself, after the scabs have turned to scars, after
you have traveled far or, perhaps, risen instead from the

sludge we left behind, grew legs, perhaps, and learned
to walk as we once did, you may find yourself here

on what used to be our home. You should know that
we called it a variety of names, but you may call it

what you like. Look at the mountains and know they
are ancient. Look to the rivers, the ocean, the perfect

synchronicity, the give and take, the way rain becomes snow
becomes river becomes ocean becomes rain again. Look to

the tiniest sprouts hiding beneath decaying leaves. Know
that they will one day become trees, wide and sturdy and tall.

Look to the soil and all that it houses. You should know that
we studied these things until the very end, that some of us lived

and died for the smallest things, things you couldn’t see
with the naked eye. Look to the stones — not just the river stones,

but the bones of what we used to be: the roads, the highways, the
buildings that once reached the sky. You should know that some

of us lived and died to find out what it all meant: the ruins of our
ancestors, the things they wrote, the things they felt, the beautiful

and terrible things they built and burnt to the ground. And know
that we continue on this quest, this pointless mission to write

it all down, to make sense of it, to calculate the right numbers
to escape the inevitable, to escape our own ends. Know that the end

is something that you cannot escape here. We searched for luck so hard
and so long that we set ourselves on fire looking for infinity.

You can only pull life out of the soil for so long, you can only
burn bones for so long. Eventually, everything returns to dust.

Eventually, the home that once kept you dry becomes brittle.
You should know that we saw the end coming long before it did,

but the end came anyway. And if you must leave, leave this place
as you found it, and before you go, find a mountain and sit at its base

in the warmest month of the year. Wait for the sky to turn purple, for the
sun to disappear but still linger in orange stripes on the horizon, and the

frogs, if they still exist, will sing. If you are capable of speaking, try not to,
and if you are capable of listening, do. And if you cannot hear them,

I am sorry.

Alexis Renata is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. She mostly writes speculative fiction and poetry. Her work has been featured in Z Publishing's Oregon's Best Emerging Poets series. You can follow her @alxsrenata or
Current Issue
13 May 2024

This variation on the elixir of life pairs the flavour of roasted roc with the medicinal potency of the philosopher’s stone. But buyer beware: this dish isn’t for everyone.
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