“What We Leave Behind” by Yvette A. Schnoeker-Shorb

She appeared again today;
the notch in her left ear
was the same. Everything
about her was the same
except that she was dead,
hit by a car in the road.
I remember this deer
from a month ago when
she shyly nibbled an apple
fallen from a struggling tree
in my yard. So graceful
an animal, natural
and unpretentious, moving
moment to moment.
I wonder if she dreaded
a universe that will go on
without us in the future,
as it seems we humans do.

We leave so many marks—
artifacts, photos, words,
currency as if to purchase
a place in history or keep
our presence alive. We are
a species attached to forever,
but even with all our art,
monuments, memories,
diaries, sometimes eulogies
so kindly and profoundly
offered by those still living,
the only thing worthwhile
we could ever leave behind
is our desire to be immortal,
a will to survive, but whatever
that drive is; in the end—deer,
human—it really doesn’t matter
as soon as the matter is gone.


Yvette A. Schnoeker-Shorb’s work has appeared in Clockhouse, AJN: The American Journal of Nursing, Mount Hope Magazine, the Jungian journal Depth Insights, Terrain.org, and others journals.  She holds an interdisciplinary MA from Prescott College and has been an educator, researcher, editor, and is co-founder of a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

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