The Heritability of Disappearing by Mia Nelson

the greatest sorrow amongst biologists is
that most lineages lead to extinction.

I am thinking of this while tender-footing around
the greenhouse, cataloging each and every

variation of splendor. I wonder if leaves and stems
feel the burden of inheritance, the weight of

in each sudden, delirious fruiting. Do they feel the shoulders
of their mother’s mother stiff against the weight of

disappearance, do they too think about the blood &
the mass graves associated with living? I want to

believe that they do understand this, that I am not
alone in seeing one thousand shadows within my

each darkness lush with ancestral sacrifice. I think about the
genes I did not get, all the people I will never be mistaken for.

I wonder about the extinctions woven between my widows peak
and softly freckled skin mostly when I am laying in the blue

boy-smelling room Ethan kisses me in. This room
where he speaks no Yiddish and I speak no Spanish,

not even softy to the backs of his sleeping

I kiss Ethan’s elbow and recite in my head
our biological propensity to disappear

while he tells me about outer space and the moon landing
and his big dream of being an astronaut.

Ethan misunderstands what I mean when I
say that it is our birthright to vanish

and half-jokingly asks me to repopulate Mars with him.

why not? the earth is not much
than a house built with forgotten

we speakers of deceased tongues
we lovers of those who are just shadow

let us go to heaven and make our own