Even being buried somewhere else seems better. You know

you’ll give yourself to science, whatever’s left of you to give,

but you visit country cemeteries – old ones – imagining sand

and rock and ants on top, pretending the apostlebirds and

white-winged choughs and tufts of native grasses are enough.

Your epitaph: one mistletoe in the one and only tree; a kind-of

parasite of benefit to some, if not its host. You see birds and bees

that use its flowers, think you’d like to be remembered well.

Think you should be doing more, for birds, for bees, for science,

for your host. You are alone here. In cemeteries abroad, you’ve liked

the ivy and the wrens, the yew’s protection from the spirits you don’t

believe in. Think these things befit the way you see yourself. Here,

apostlebirds are nicknamed ‘happy families’ and you leave,

comforted to think that yes, you’d not prefer another kind of visitor.

You leave, comforted to think your bones and all you tried to do

and learn could be ignored by generations of these birds.





Emma Croker is an ornithologist, insect enthusiast and writer from New South Wales, Australia. Her work is forthcoming in Crab Creek Review and The Bookends Review. She feels better about her species when she reads poetry.




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