the coldest year of the rest of my life

By | 15 May 2023

The college class I’m closest to remembering is the one where we listened to scientists weep over a list of extinct Hawaiian birds. I don’t remember the color of the walls or the feeling of the girl whose knees touched mine under the table flinching as smog blurred the sun from our windows. When I imagine that day there is no one but me, surrounded by bleached white forests, songless, petrified, feathers stuck in my teeth.

Another memory I almost have— my professor taking us to the shore and pressing our ears to the smooth stones and bottle shards puddled there. It was beautiful, the snarling rumble of the lake half-full of fish we couldn’t eat. I don’t remember how I did that semester, or how the storms felt kinder then. I don’t remember the hope or the fear or the way the snow went up to my knees when I was a child and in the summers there were more caterpillars than the world had jars and the border between us and the soil beneath was so thin, so fine.

Here’s what I do remember.

There will be life. New life. Strange life. It will crawl out of the mud of my bones, my neighbor’s bones, the bones of every one of us who survive on melting margins; the tiny bones of island birds, the bones of rotting riverbeds, of all the tuskless elephants, of every sunken factory and our earth— our lonely giant of impossible birth— will turn long after the stars go dark.


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