*Quotation from “I Am Not Ready to Die Yet” in Kingdom Animalia by Aracelis Girmay (BOA Editions 2011).*

I thrust my foot against the shovel,
digging into the soil
& ripping the deplorable (God, forgive me
for using that word) flowers up
by their roots & disposing
those wilted leaves, rotten roots,
browned blooms among the trashed
broken bottles & soiled clothes

I do this, over & over, throughout the heat of the day,
& I ponder my proximity
to these perished plants—-am I just a dying thing?
hopeless? waiting for my loved ones to cull me from their lives? 
unaware of my soon-to-be-discarded state?
am I just like these plants I picked so desperately,
delicately, & yet so quickly decided to rid myself of
as soon as they were no longer perfect?

Aracelis Girmay wrote:
        I am not ready to die yet.
        I want to live longer knowing that wind
        still moves a dead bird’s feathers.
        Wind doesn’t move over & say That thing
        can’t fly. Don’t go there. It’s dead.
        No, it just blows & blows lifting
        what it can.

But I am not a bird; wind does not move me
like that even in my prime. No. Yet
I have braved many seasons: euphemisms
of mothers “passing away” when no one has passed,
instead I am left with a vacancy; lovers who’ve decided
I am no longer worthy of their care, that another mate
is better; insurmountable loneliness. Here I am, still,
hardy & durable, returning with each cycle

I wipe my brow of the day’s sweat & shower away the dirt
before laying atop my quilts & making love to myself…
the tears flow shortly after, with images
of my loved ones dancing in my mind,
& I remind myself that I veered from tradition
& overwork myself by only planting annuals, drunk
on short-term beauty & restless, unneeded labor from removing
the dead. I am still alive; there is continual beauty, here