Aubade

— Hilary Vaughn Dobel

In the Kansas City summer, sunrise sounded like a river
through a landscape of creek beds rich with fossils: trilobites,

ferns, clams the size of a fingernail with crystals frothing out their shells.
When I showed them to him, retrieved from a box I’d hidden years ago,

he spoke about extinction. If we really wanted to play God, he said,
when I was kneeling, we’d make the rules and walk away. Even now, he said,

lifting my chin, you need this story more than it needs you. Here then,
is the story he tells about me. I am clear but not simple. Not beautiful

but bright. In the forest he looked to me as I let it swallow him up.
And now, two days into the newest year, there’s no one else around

so I overdrive my headlights, cast them at the dark to spite it—trace
the coastal road as it makes the shape of teeth to bite the ocean,

here a molar, there a fang, everywhere the thrill of acceleration
on good asphalt. Good morning, motherless world, pull on your socks

in this dark before sunup when the gloaming turns the snow
electric blue. The air is full of bright lines here, and the ocean is another

strip of sky. If I could, I would carry him with me in the half-moon’s
waxing basket. Even now, as morning pales at my heels, I can say his name.
                                                                                                                              I can see.


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