Thanatopsis

by E. Lily Yu

Midges I murdered, tapping pen to page,
Folding down the grave and reading on,
Take comfort: Likewise I shall be dispersed
In flyspecks, flecks, iotas, tasting first
The painless little suppers of becoming
A metropolis of corpse and sexton beetles
Feather-footed, leather-jacketed, bright-barred,
And battalions of bluebottles, soap-sheen-shelled.
To be wholly disassembled and assumed
In smaller and more perfect architectures,
And after the unweaving of all muscle,
Despite extinction of the last lamped nerve,
To twist and blister from the blood-fed egg,
To crack elytra, strike the air, and fly:
What but bliss and blessing call this change?

In the pockets where wet hearts once beat,
The dead of early Egypt wore a word,
A scarab cut from fine hard porphyry,
Its belly scratched with spells: kheper, transform
Forever without ceasing, without rest,
As the boatman of the sky collects decay,
Rolls it into a sun, and in its depths
Begets his clutch of heliolatrous sons.
Such gods of insect mind their works begin
With endings, lion carcasses, carrion,
Crumbs of stifled stars, chilled meteors.
In time the void and waste will propagate
Masses of tumbling turbulent hot lives,
Like this new blink-winged speck above my book,
Psalming his legion genealogies,
A consolation, if I choose to hear
The sweet descent from fine to finer scale.
As from the patient dark of nebulae
Accretion and ignition, so do I
Await insection into constellated wings and eyes.


E. Lily Yu is a student and a paper airplane and a swallow with indigo wings. Her work has appeared in Goblin Fruit, Electric Velocipede, The Kenyon Review Online, and Quick Fiction. She winters at Princeton University.


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