Poetry pairing: the when of death

Larry Sutin’s essay When is a Good Time to Think About Death? in Numero Cinq is a beautiful contemplation of the particulars of death.

But I think that many of us think about it incessantly without knowing we do, if not unconsciously than implicitly, and always with a mind to how we should spend the time we have, a sack of coins that seems never to empty when we are not thinking of death.

About an hour after reading this essay, I happened upon Error’s Refuge, a new poem by Dorianne Laux in Oxford American. The poem and the essay are still speaking to one another.

And death,
we think, happens only once,
though most of us hold to the belief
some residue transcends,


7 thoughts on “Poetry pairing: the when of death

  1. Hmmm – bookmarked that piece by Larry Sutin. He was on my thesis committee back in the day (1998) when I got my MFA. He’s an amazing teacher.

    • I’ve heard he’s an amazing teacher, Kathleen. I wish I wrote in a different genre just to have the chance to work with him. He’s one of my favorites to hear read at VCFA.

  2. I like the comparison of how thinking about death is like a sack of coins that never seems to empty. I also like the poem’s implication that we may die more than one death. It implies rebirth, which is the logical conclusion one draws about death when observing the natural world.

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