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

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