How to Collapse Into Coal

by Sarah Snook

As your tulip poplars rustle into the wind’s curl, hold onto your roots.
Rocks ignore human pain.
Beware of melt, grind, and erosion.
You are strong and younger—never forget their foundation
or topography.
The creek, a single hieroglyph sliding into the Nolichucky, will water you.
Do not tire as rain pelts your growth.
You will need this like children’s vitamins.

Autumn after autumn you will die.
The cilia ferns will dry.
Your leaves will fall.
Trees will turn into logs that will disintegrate into spores and molds and moss.

You won’t be able to stand your humidity in the summer,
or the stench of your growth as it rots in turmoil with carcasses,
you will have to accept it.
Accept inevitable death.
You will have thousands of years.
You will die and die and die.

As your layers build, you will press firmly on your past as it churns beneath and hardens.
You will be distilled into your essential carbon.
You will be stronger and black with rage.
Embrace your new shape.
You will burn longer and harder.

How-to-Collapse-into-Coal_Snook_Photo_lgeSarah Snook graduated from Minnesota State University, Mankato with her M.F.A. in Creative Writing, and has her M.A. in English from the University of Indianapolis. She currently resides in Massachusetts with her family, where she enjoys writing poetry and fiction, crafting, and listening to rock and roll.

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