I traced a river’s branchings to the source,
where water carves a canyon out of rock. So life
is measured best by how it pours
across death, by the etchings it has knifed
into death’s hide, a kind of branding.
If stars with their constellations claim
a section of the sky, if a river owns the land
it passes through, then life owns death, naming
what it has scarred. Rain shapes the earth.
A sculptor cuts cold stone into human form.
So by living we have changed death.
We make death ours from the moment we are born.
As chiseled rock cannot be whole again,
each day I wake I say, Death you will never be the same.

(kz1988) (previously appeared in Poetry East 33)

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