Here Lies Dust

Elisa Gabbert

Here lies dust, reads a mausoleum.

Coffin for an ibis, reads a placard

in a college museum. A friend turns

forty-seven, a friend turns thirty-five.

We see wild turkeys in the graveyard,

a few too many to bother

to count, a word turns sideways

to clear a narrow passage.

Years turn, revolving doors,

I was eleven when my father

was forty-four. Now I am.

A throwaway joke that kills.

The day turns silvery-gold behind

its clouds, like crossing paths

with Satan. A thought thrills

the mind—life is evil.

Elisa Gabbert is the author of six collections of poetry, essays, and criticism, including Normal Distance, The Unreality of Memory and Other Essays, and The Word Pretty. She is the poetry columnist for The New York Times Book Review.
Originally published:
January 31, 2024



Life in the Algorithm

It has reshaped culture—but how? Two new books reckon with our digital predicament.
Anna Shechtman

The Night Watch

I first sought sanctuary during the Troubles. I'm still looking for it.
Darran Anderson

Why I Write

The legendary cultural critic on finding a life’s work
Greil Marcus


New perspectives, enduring writing. Join a conversation 200 years in the making. Subscribe to our print journal and receive four beautiful issues per year.