Oxygen & Dust

I’ve never seen a dead body before

which I’m not disappointed about,

like most people, I prefer bodies

which are alive and well

but I’ve seen death;

tasted it on the tip of my tongue.

I watched the branches of a tree

be severed with a saw

and tossed into a metal bin with kindling.

The smell wasn’t the same

as a fireplace, it was the hiss

of bark flesh crumbling,

and it stung;

creeped into my throat.

My eyes watered as the smoke rose

and caused each flower

still standing to shrink,

petals curled;

heads bowed to the soil.


I imagine this is what finding

a dead body is like;

seeing life that should be,

burning in oxygen and dust;

motionless and emotionless,

another mark left on this world

like all of the ones we are leaving

whilst we’re still living –

scorched earth, smothered sky

and a plughole in the sea.

We don’t care enough

until we bleed and taste the bitterness

of iron in our cheeks.



ยฉ Kristiana Reed 2019

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