Where are the dead?
They are not among us.
Between this man and that
Before the dead had died
Stood air and space and weather
And hung the smell of things.
Today, on that same street
Stand all the self-same things
Between that man and this.

Where are the dead?
They die. They disappear.
Today, when we look up,
Not anything’s displaced.
No space has been reduced
Though near a man has died.
No imprint stays of him
To interrupt our view.
Only the living show.

We were the dead’s increase.
Not anything that’s left
Exists with them again.
The living think of life.
What secrets have we learned
That we can use to know
Why nothing can explain
If death resembles life
And where the dead have gone?


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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 22 Number 7, on page 41
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