21 Death Song Not the dead seal swollen tight as a football That I saw, clear in the midday winter light, But my students at their final exams last night Was my death vision. And no, not Nancy’s skull Under her smooth skin. I saw death edge them all As they toiled there, it rested at the white Surface of the papers I had, curved with the tight Curve of the c in ‘precise,’ kept the interval Between each letter (and gives this cold salt air Its underlightness, the moon its bright rim because Death is what does not happen, around what does), I held in my lungs its imperishable elsewhere, I saw creation being supported by Death’s tortoise — not on his shell, in his air-clear eye. 43