Death and I convene in the back of a bar. He presses an unlit cigarette to my lips and says, “You’re not going to get with me any quicker unless you inhale.” He’s a tease, that Death. I taste the end when his bones clink against mine. He’s pleased with how I flatter him-hanging out in smoky rooms at three in the afternoon, drinking beer for breakfast, letting lace hang between my white thighs as I wink at the walls. At sunset, he invites me into his carriage and says, “The day is being murdered, its blood runs red across the sky. Each second is gone, killed by my tongue. Look, another and another!”
He is proud of the ones he’s touched. He recites their names like a poem to show me that I will inevitably end up at home with him. Oh, how he laughs when I argue that I am invincible! He lets me have my fun and rush into the waves, because he likes that I tease them to take me, while believing that my thighs can endure their cold slaps.
Death has taught me one thing: when someone is gone, we try to simplify them into one word. Emily Dickinson-writer. John Wayne Gacy Jr.-serial killer. Death-the overseer of it all. Since my birth was a death sentence, am I nothing but a corpse who is living for an uncertain amount of time before meeting my inevitable fate?
Oh Death, he’s taken such an interest in me. One day, leaning against a cobwebbed slot machine, he says, “Keep going with that whiskey. Oh that’s good, keep the knife close. Yes, yes, stay in bed. You don’t need a meal. You don’t need words. Stay silent, stay still, you’re with me when you practice dying.” He says he can taste himself on my lips when I eat nothing but coffee and half-finished poetry. But though he sometimes gets close to seducing me, I always shake him off, because I have taught him something, the greatest lesson of all: If all I have is time that is running out, I want to spend it living, not looking for a way out.”