(After “Nothing But Death” by Pablo Neruda)

There are people who die
surrounded by loved ones
and others die alone
to shiver in their own fearful inquiry.

Standing here
at the cusp of a rolling hill cemetery,
survivors and I come together
to write to our beloveds,

all I can visualize
are pine boxes of shriveled humans
lined up in rows—
no longer submitting to rules or rage.

All that’s important is
that your beloved places
stones upon your grave
or that a ghost sometimes
appears in your nights
whispering a blessing.

How long does it take
for a pine casket to disintegrate
in this caving land—
not forgotten, so alone?

I’ve always been drawn to death —
mine perished in the Holocaust—
a persistent life theme
unable to bury
as long as my feet
touch the ardent earth.