Named Beneficiaries

I’m not comforted by funerals—
killing flowers to honor the dead, spending money to rob
nature of decay. What slows my pulse
is the time-lapse

footage of ravens standing
on a corpse’s chest, beaks tugging at rotten flesh so forcefully
that the arms and legs dance once more.
This is the afterlife I crave.

Being of sound mind,
I hope to avoid burial by passing on a January day—
my body, fattened from holiday meals, rolling down an embankment,
then coming to rest atop crusty snow.

To the maggots, I bestow
first dibs on my eyes. Devour them quickly so the birds aren’t bothered
by my blank stare as they peck my tongue,
drive talons into my throat.

To the scavengers,
I grant the luxury of eating in peace,
with winterized bears slumbering inside of their dens until spring.
In the interest of fairness, I decree

the wolves shall have
my left hock and ribs, but to the hares,
I set in trust, a temporary reprieve from the pack’s chase—
if only for a day.

I leave special thanks
to the vultures, who dip bald heads between the buttons of my shirt
and puncture my belly to spare me
the indignity of bloat.

Lastly, I will tall forage
to the deer. To be grazed in May, after the rains have washed me
deep into the soil and the grasses have lifted me
as close to heaven as I will ever be.

Lorrie Ness is a poet writing in a rural corner of Virginia. When she’s not writing, she can be found stomping through the woods, watching birds and playing in the dirt. Her work can be found in numerous journals, including Palette Poetry and Sky Island Journal. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2021 and her chapbook Anatomy of a Wound was published by Flowstone Press in July of 2021.

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