It sits on neckline,
a dead thing,
an empty house.

She goes through her
day in submission
to the beauty.

This death
is not a trophy but
an artifact,
a missing tooth,
cracked eye glasses,
giving the whole world
an awkward perspective.

Despite the loneliness,
despite the lack of dignity
and the joy
death takes with it,
there is a very simple relic
left behind.

It is memory,
it is reenactment,
and it is precious.

She knows it.

Her fingers glide over
ridged shell and jagged edge.
She recognizes the history
of birth and life,
of age and death,
understanding transmitted
through every trembling

She doesn’t know why, not yet,
she will be older when she does.

She will see that shell
at the bottom of jewelry drawer,
a few more edges chipped away,
and remember the day it hung
on slim neck, when she
was only 16 years old.