Talking With Death

Talking With Death

I sit down across from death
we look at each other
A small worm crawls through his empty white eye

  • so what’s you’re deal?

he shrugs at me
everything dies. he says
I mean you know

  • and you make sure that happens?

not really I mean there’s not much to do
it’s just where things end up

it’s not like in cartoons or movies
I’m not walking around stalking people with a scythe
I mostly just wait

But in the grand scheme of things
I don’t actually have to wait that long

  • In the grand scheme of things?

in the grand scheme of things


You know a scythe is used to harvest wheat or grain.

  • yeah?

Have you ever done that?

  • No, I haven’t

It’s actually quite boring hard work.

Wars are the hardest
There’s a lot of work then.
But over time even that starts to have a rhythm to it
Like harvesting
Swing swing swing
and the wheat falls

  • You sound sort of bored by it?

He shrugs
I am in a way,

I mean people try to run from me
But where are you going to run?

They try to outlast me
They build towers
Write books
Have children

but from where I sit,
there’s nowhere to run to

  • baby?

Ah, a joke,
I actually like jokes
Makes things go by a bit more lightly

  • So outrunning you is pointless

Well it’s not pointless exactly
I mean you can last a bit more time

It’s probably worth the effort
Because what comes after
Lasts forever

You might as well try
But think of it this way

I’m running an endless ultra marathon
One I was designed to run
And everyone else
Is running the 100-meter dash
and over
and over
and over

some of them run faster
some of them trip at the starting block

A few
more recenlty
have made it past the finish line

arms out like they’re flying

but they’re so tired by then
by then they’re happy for the race to end

A lot of people are, who get close to the finish line

  • ( I look down at my hands )

  • Makes sense

  • Do you think the race will get longer?


  • Yeah science and stuff

It could happen.
It’s happened other places.

  • Other places?

Yeah I mean earth isn’t the only place

  • Of course

The race might become the 200 meter
Maybe even the 1600
But eventually

  • eventually

yeah eventually

From the prospective of an ultramarathoner
even 1600 isn’t that much different

  • hmmm

  • How do you do it?

How do I do it?
You mean the taking?

  • No I mean keep doing it, your work?

Well I mean it’s just what my job is
I am in some ways my job
I wish I could say it means a lot
or has some significance
But it really doesn’t

You all,
You all make it mean a lot

How you trip during the race
The way you run
What your racing kit looks like
Who’s cheering
Who’s yelling for you to stumble

But again from my perspective
It makes little difference

You’re all running super slow
Your kits all start to look the same
Your meanings all seem meaningless
Not that they are

I mean if I was running the 100
I would run fast too
I would want to get as far as I could
I would care about who was cheering

But from my perspective
It doesn’t matter
I’m here
Waiting patiently

And to be honest it never feels
Like I have to wait that long

-(I look down at my hands again)

  • So what am I supposed to do with all that?
  • Or this?

Well I’m not sure.
Some people do seem to be more at peace with it
This whole thing
They smile when they see me
They relax

That does seem slightly better
Better than the terror
Better than the franticness

Again from my perspective, it doesn’t make much difference
But I guess if I had to shoot for something
I might focus on that

I mean the race ends either way

  • Either way?

Either way.

  • ( I start to cry a little )

Well, this is a bit awkward . . .

  • ( I look up )

Hey, it’s ok I’m used to it.
It’s just

I never understand why you all take it so personally
Like I’m here for you
Or like I have some vendetta

remember it’s like harvesting wheat
I’m not picking roses from a garden
And thank god
I mean the thorns
the precision

I’m harvesting wheat
I swing a big blade
Thousands fall
Moment by moment

all of that to say
It’s not personal

  • But it feels that way you know

  • I mean I get it

  • Intellectually
  • I get it

  • But when you’ve got this thing

  • This race
  • These few footsteps
  • You cherish them
  • They matter to you

  • For me, the race seems like it lasts . . .

  • No long enough really
  • But it lasts

  • And you wonder how to use it

  • How to run it well
  • You look back and read stories of how others did
  • It seems like they did so much
  • Their lives rich in love and stories
  • And then you look at your own
  • And you wonder

  • You wonder if it’s worth it

  • What you did
  • What you didn’t
  • The mistakes
  • The memories

  • You sort of can’t help it

  • You grieve for it
  • You wish you knew now
  • What you didn’t’ know before

  • When it seemed

  • At least from over here
  • That you had more time


I mean I get it

And to be honest
It doesn’t really matter

To me at least
It matters to you
But perhaps only to you
I mean they all looked at me

In the eye

All the people before
At the end, it’s just me
The worm
and that’s it

I know you worry
but what really is there to worry about?

Pain, joy, accomplishment, meaning
For me
in the context of the race you’re running
It doesn’t matter

  • But it does to me

Yeah I get it does to you

And I’m not saying stop
Or don’t care
Or don’t make an effort

There is a gentle nobility in running
But if you can
I you can make peace
If you can be gentle
If you can just

I think that’s better

Make some meaning
Make some babies
Write some poems

It’s all good

Just remember that from over here

  • ultra marathon?


  • Hm
  • ( I take deeeeeeep breath )
  • Thanks for talking with me death

  • (I start to cry again but more softly)

He smiles at me

  • In that moment
  • I realize death
  • Actually has a very nice smile

Thanks to Matt and Adam who’s conversations partially inspired this post.