Victoria Nordlund
Reconstruction

Although no two organisms decompose in the same way, they all undergo the same sequential stages of decomposition.


Fresh

Seventh grade me and three others wait for the school bus
on a corner across the street from the Highland Park Market
in front of a house with broken windows,
four foot weeds, a flurry of flesh flies,
and a dead cat next to us on the curb
mouth opened
rigid and awkward.
I have just moved here from New Jersey.

Bloat

This cat becomes another cigarette butt in this abandoned yard.
Aaron prods her with a branch.
The maggots wriggle.
She looks ready to rupture.
I wonder how she died.
Melissa tells me I am fucking lame.
Tells me how much she hates my Jordache jeans and waist-length braids.
Aaron tells me he wants me to play the prostitute
in the group video project for English
‘cause that would be hilarious
as Kathy changes the tape on her Walkman.
I wish I didn't move here.

Active disintegration

She looks deflated.
Bones jut from her matted coat.
I am still hopeful
somebody will remove her.
It is late November.
There are beer cans near her
that Aaron and Kathy kick into the street.
Their book bags huddle together
on the ground.
Melissa’s breath plumes
in the feathers of her blonde hair.
She shoves her hands in her rabbit fur jacket.
Reminds Aaron and Kathy of that party on Friday.
They chat about who they saw at the Manchester Parkade last week,
and how Kathy shoplifted this purse,
and how wicked cool some R-rated movie was and
I can't speak here,
or at school.
It is better to be ignored.
I am not wearing gloves.

Advanced decay

The snow covers her carcass
but I never forget she is under there.

Dry

These remains have now been broken down to the simplest form.
They are a part of my composition.

  1. I watched a cat decay in 1981.
  2. I still get panic attacks.
  3. Someone razed that house.
  4. Melissa and Aaron still live in Manchester.
  5. Kathy died of breast cancer two years ago.
I found her obit when I tried to friend her on Facebook last week.

Victoria Nordlund received her MALS from Wesleyan University. She teaches creative writing at Rockville High School in Vernon, CT. She is also an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut. Her work is published in Pank Magazine, Gone Lawn, Eunoia Review, and Amaryllis. She is the 2016 NEATE New England Poet of the Year.