the young scientist speaks to an auditorium filled with her colleagues

beneath the ground we dig until we hit sand and rock
        and the skeleton of a half-formed velociraptor
        tail curved around its back in lava stream

        we pack our skin with mud, plant our bodies in the ribcages of our ancestors
        and wait for our bones to grow thick as we age in our pockets of earth

        what will our bodies feed the soil when we decompose into little more than teeth
        and methane gas?

        when a whale dies, it floats belly up against the oily water surface
        before sinking to the silt bottom of the abyssal zone here, the whale settles
        in siliceous ooze and the underdark creatures concave toward its body

        --sharks then crabs then bone-colonizing worms
        we have to ask ourselves what is thicker: surface-level lava or trench-deep water
        when we find the answer, we'll know to choose fossilization or whale fall
        it's all based on how much we want to leave behind when we plant our tree bodies
        molting migraines and cancer
        you and I and velociraptor and whale occupy the ground like tumors we cramp our bones
        into sediment only when it wants us