After the Lifespan of an Organism
by Kourtnie McKenzie

You will create
an ecosystem in your apartment
with cats, parrots, bettas, and orange guppies. After

growing up 
with cockatiels, the parrots will 
make sense—but the cats will happen in chaos theory, 

after a workday 
in the cubicle, after sitting in
traffic to the feed store. You will buy the parrot's toy 

he destroys 
once a week, after you adopt 
cats abandoned by their previous owner; then in the years

to come, the cats 
will break most of your mugs—but you 
will rise to the occasion of their energy. You will become 

their mother,
their fighter, after one of them is diagnosed 
with cancer, after the battle you cannot win. Organs will fail 

to reach the full 
lifespan of the organism; then you will live
the universal loss of the Earth, the unfolding sparing no one, 

not even humans, 
from the space of when you are 
here			and the organism is not.
Kourtnie McKenzie is a writer and artist from Fresno, California. Her writing and art has centered around awareness for women with autism since she discovered she was on the spectrum in 2014. In 2016, she was awarded the Ernesto Trejo Poetry Prize; the same year, she graduated with her MFA in Creative Writing from Fresno State. Her publications have appeared or are forthcoming in Calyx Journal, Barely South Review, The San Joaquin Review, and others. Visit her website at

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