Poem for the New Year

I have been thinking about how  

Papa Morgan dropped dead after dinner when my mom was younger than I am now.  

It was an aneurysm.  

And I learned– very recently– 

that once she had a student die during P.E. in the very same way.  

Pre-existing conditions.  

I see dead rabbits in the grass at home, 

I see dead dead birds on the sidewalk here,  

and I know the ancient Romans would use a haruspex 

to read the entrails for messages from the gods.  

My throat aches and itches, 

and some days I’m too aware of my heart beat, 

and this is why I’m a half-assed existentialist:  

I am too terrified that dying at any moment, 

no matter how young I am, how unlikely it is, 

is a possibility.  

At the same time,  

I’m seeing my favorite movie for the first time, 

watching my roommate’s face light up at the really good parts.  

A professor of mine last semester said  

genetics are a form of reincarnation, 

all those before you living on in you, 

in the fabric of your being,  

and I almost wept in my seat.  

Over the past year, it’s been clearer than ever  

that for however much I love my brother,  

he loves me just as strongly– 

I saw it in the way he offered me his leftovers the day I moved into my apartment.  

How can I waste time worrying about dying  

when faced with moments like that?

Gracie Overstreet is an undergraduate student studying Writing Intensive English.