Karine Leger, La Tombée de la Nuit (acrylic on canvas)

At first I thought
I’d become
a friend of death,

your stand-in,
bodyless body double,
reassuring, contractual,

doing its duty.
Receptacle into which life
spilled and was held,

fantastical reservoir
of each gone beloved,
their pooled brilliance,

their surplus affection
and pain. Place-holder
made portal, anti-address

to which our love letters
might still be addressed.
I thought death was in it

with me, holding you a hair’s
breath on the other side
of matter’s silk screen.

All our lives
we play at certainty.

A year later death
is no more than crass
erasure, word

affording undue substance,
name for that which merits
none. My own time left

feinting into the vast
lack that fans

before and behind. Flash
in the pan. To speak

of death as nothingness,

a silence—gross
To say “death.”

To say anything at all.


Emily Van Kley