'Every Year I Bury a Couple Hundred of My Townspeople.' So opens the singular testimony of the poet Thomas Lynch. Like all poets, inspired by death, Lynch is, unlike others, also hired to bury the dead or to cremate them and to tend to their families in a small Michigan town where he serves as the funeral director. In the conduct of these duties he has kept his eyes open, his ears tuned to the indispensable vernaculars of love and grief. Here is the voice of both witness and functionary. Lynch stands between 'the living and the living who have died' with outrage and amazement, awe and calm, straining for the brief glimpse we all get of what mortality means to a vital species.