Atoms

Cells die, but not the hundred trillion atoms
within each one–they’ve been around
since the stars were born and will be here ever after.
Even a body gone up in smoke does not lose a single atom.
Skin, blood, bones turn to water, gas, minerals.
So widely are atoms recycled that a billion of our own
once belonged to Shakespeare.

Knowing this helps.
Now that you are gone
you could be anywhere:
inside a red maple leaf,
or the twitching tail of a tadpole,
in the taste of a honeydew melon,
in the sigh of a thousand strangers,
in the hollow you left within my arms.


This poem was originally published by Minnow Literary Review.

Published by

Jean Ryan

Jean Ryan, a native Vermonter, lives in Lillian, Alabama. Her stories and essays have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies. She has also published a novel, LOST SISTER. Her short story collections, SURVIVAL SKILLS and LOVERS AND LONERS, are available online. STRANGE COMPANY, a collection of short nature essays, is available in paperback as well as digital and audio editions.

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