Donald Zirilli

The Meaning of Death

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Those who die young and unexpectedly,
cut down by illness or an accident,
are far outnumbered by the ruck of us.
Rather than die on one specific day
we put the mask of death on gradually —
year by year inexorably turn
from flesh to stone, carrying always in us,
in face and bones and stride, some partial shade
of the silent black oblivion that awaits.

What of the death of everything? Could that
come creeping too? No thunderclap-sudden end
on one dread date, but slow attenuation,
a candle guttering out through long millennia
till nothing’s left and no one’s there to see it?