What is death’s gender, race, age, and height, I wonder; the

color of its eyes. Death aint got one. But then it never gets

pulled over, some sort of stealth technology. No sex navel

nipples no nothing. No birth certificate, and no throne. All it’s

got is its prison and position as warden administering its world-

wide death row. All it’s got is its unmanned craft and regret-

table but completely deniable air-strikes, thank God it was the

house next door. And I suppose the missiles are actually guided

by chimpanzees prone to lucid dreaming, seatbelts securely

fastened, they had to do something with those old electric

chairs, but never mind about that. It is on its way, don’t wor-

ry, and it wants to make your personal acquaintence. Maybe at

an intersection, or a restroom off the highway. It may meet you

in cubicle or classroom, methodically making its way up the

hall while you patiently wait in a puddle of urine. It does have

a lot of ground to cover, more often than not it looks elsewhere,

and after hourlike minutes of paralyzing turbulence the plane

straightens out, slows to a glide and touches down in a pro-

foundly convincing demonstration of the advisability of life over

screaming in flames; or you come in the front door, switch on

the light, and the heart attack gleefully shouting “SURPRISE!”

turns out to be less than fatal. You can never tell, though. On

another day you could look up to find it standing right in front

of you, blocking your way, the smiler with a razor in his hand,

on a crowded sidewalk, in the bathroom mirror . . .Just think

what a hard life it has—who works twenty-four hours a day?—

and nobody cares, nobody even mentions its name, they stick

with weather and sports. And all its got is its unheated room

and clock radio, the one with the special frequencies, the glow-

ing green numerals that can only change after it stares at them,

that alone must be so exhausting! And though its favorite pro-

grams be unique, the incredibly long milk-blue fingers reaching

from under the covers aren’t that interested anymore. Like you

and me on the bad mornings, what it is really groping for is an

eternal snooze button. It’s had it, is frequently given to depres-

sion and voluptuously prolonged ideation—but how is death

supposed to commit suicide, I ask you, and when would it find

time? This is hard manual work, slowly passing your hand over

roughly one hundred pairs of eyes per minute all over the

planet, perpetually brushing the snow from so many eroded, no

longer legible dates, the windshield wipers having stopped

functioning at about 2 p.m. in a blizzard somewhere in the

middle of nowhere.