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Becca Miles

Living Things are Always Burning

Here you go again. Two steps 
towards the cave mouth, and 
you’re planning your retreat.
Even the hope of sunlight horrifies.
Of course it does. You’ve mapped 
these tunnels by touch, felt
every crevice in swallowing blackness,
crawled through shale ‘til flayed 
knees turned to blood-red ore, 
carved a bed from rock and laid in it,
let your back grow hard and grooved,
let the embers of ambition fade,
let frost drain the colour from
fingers, limbs, face. All that time
devoted to fossilising, and now
you want
                to want
to be anything but a golem 
of stone and bone and ice?
I want
                to want
to be my own Prometheus, set myself 
on fire to guide my journey, let burning 
light unite with metabolic alchemy, unleash 
free radicals to dynamite the elements,
oxidise my guts with every breath, shed 
cells that can’t be regrown, every reckless 
division inviting mutation, a fragile tower of 
biochemistry, daring entropy to bring it down, 
to howl; to weep for what is lost
but not what could have been, 
blackened footprints where I stagger,
scratch a message in the ashes where I fall:
‘And yet they were glad
to be anything but that calcified thing, 
to be one of the hideous living.’
Becca used to write poetry to procrastinate from their Biology degree and accidentally procrastinated their way into a writing career. They've published individual poems in anthologies More Exhibitionism, BFS: Horizons, Vortex, and Poetry For All, and they contributed twelve poems to the joint collection Steel-Tipped Snowflakes. In their spare time, Becca likes to get together with friends and pretend to be other people. Sometimes there are costumes and foam swords involved.
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