The Great Equalizer

Poetry by Jane Zwart

Gravestones in a graveyard, the text on the stone faded with age.

I used to think it was death. I saw how fast
pets put to sleep look like roadkill. I saw,
in open caskets, a single pallor: unlit candle.

We have this in common. Every corpse
is an easement annulled, but a common lessor,
unevenly appeased, does not make us equals.

Our dust rompers wear at mixed rates.
And death is not the coefficient that evens
the odds, not the zero that turns the equation

foregone. No, dying is a physical constant,
a number with some tumble in it, not Newton’s
constant of gravitation, but like that:

universal with dimensional flex, exponential
seconds in its denominator to let time rev
and dim, a lopsided rapids that undoes

the lease, the lien, but the dead are not peers.
The peers are the souls who wore their clothes,
mortality’s lessees singing eviction.

Jane Zwart teaches at Calvin University, where she also co-directs the Calvin Center for Faith & Writing. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, The Southern Review, Threepenny Review, TriQuarterly, and Ploughshares, as well as other journals and magazines.

Photo by Christophe Maertens on Unsplash

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