“I’m afraid of death”

I’m afraid of death
because it inflates
the definition
of what a person
is, or love, until
they become the same,
love, the beloved,

I’m afraid of death
because it invents
a different kind of
time, a stopped clock
that can’t be reset,
only repurchased,
an antiquity.

I’m afraid of death,
the magician who
makes vanish and who
makes odd things appear
in odd places—your
name engraves itself
on a stranger’s chest
in letters of char.


Copyright © 2013 by Kathleen Ossip. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on May 3, 2013. Browse the Poem-a-Day archive.

About this Poem


“In writing my new book The Do-Over, which is an exploration of death, I became aware of a sub-genre of medieval English poems that begin with the first line Timor mortis conturbat me—the fear of death disturbs me. I wanted to write one, because it does. Also, I like counting syllables.”

—Kathleen Ossip