Cogitatio Mortis

Written in the midst of a deep depression, Eric Pankey’s “Cogitatio Mortis” (Latin for “I think of death”) is translated by video artists Jeff Saunders and Scott Olson. Each scene, anchored, “measures the same hour” differently.

Cogitatio Mortis


Above: the forgotten vignettes of constellations.
On the river, the ache-song of a slow thaw;
Each stone, anchored, measures the same hour.

I hitched home, which means I walked most the way.

After a while, each journey is thread spun from distance and sleet.
Moon on the pond like an open door.
After a while, each room is a waiting room.


Eric Pankey


This poem first appeared in New England Review and was reprinted in Best American Poetry 2011. It appears in Eric Pankey’s collection Trace, published by Milkweed Editions. Poem copyright 2011 Eric Pankey, all rights reserved, used by permission of the author. Order the book here.

Read about Eric Pankey.

See more work from video artists Jeff Saunders and Scott Olson. Other motionpoems by Jeff or Scott are Jane Hirshfield’s “The Cloudy Vase” and Thomas Lux’s “Render, Render.”

This motionpoem is presented in collaboration with Best American Poetry 2011 (Scribner), with thanks to David Lehman, series editor.

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