Carbon Cycle, by Lindsay King-Miller

My daughter plays with dinosaurs
made from plastic made from oil
made from dinosaurs. Her treasure box
is full of fossil teeth and broken seashells
and playground trash that could be art
someday. Microplastics accrue
in her blood and mine.

We walk through a forest of petrified trees:
poems in an extinct language
memorized by stone.
I love them for their ability to outlive me.

We are scavengers
at the whale fall of prehistory.
The dead things we burn are burning us.

I want my daughter to outlive me.
I want to donate my body to paleontology.
I want to set myself on fire for my child,
but the fumes would hurt her little lungs.
I will leave a plastic fossil.

I’ll be ghost in the groundwater, blood
for oil, as in toward the creation of,
not in exchange. When life hands you
an extinction event, make fossil fuel. When life
hands you your own tail, swallow it.

My daughter breathes in dinosaurs.
I hold her in the soft parts of myself,
biodegradable, already forgotten.

Lindsay King-Miller is the author of Ask a Queer Chick: A Guide to Sex, Love, and Life for Girls who Dig Girls (Plume, 2016). Her fiction has appeared in Fireside Fiction, Baffling Magazine, and numerous other publications. Her debut novel, The Z Word, is out now from Quirk Books. She lives in Denver, CO with her partner and their two children.

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