Saturday, December 30, 2017

To Heaven and Back in an Afternoon

Behind a veil I cannot see are wonders 
making ready to amaze me. They will
answer all my questions, which I’ve asked
forever, or at least since I could speak
without a lisp. I risked the wrath of half
the population of my childhood, dogging
all my elders unremittingly and never
missing, not a single day. The big kids
are intimidating. Go away! they used to
say, not so unkindly, laughing anyway
and running way too fast for me to catch them.

Sweet, funny Mom, bright-eyed, alert,
and smart as a new hat, would be the only
answerer. It seemed that no one else was
half as bold—not that she knew which shade
of green the scenery might be, which scents
and sounds prevail, or whether there are structures
roofed and gabled or just splendid open air.

It must be beautiful beyond imagining,
she’d say. It may be there are colors never
seen on earth, or even in this universe.

Now she no longer has to guess.

Here’s what I suspect: Right now, as I sit
on my bed, at least a dozen angels
are my guests. My mother’s here. My father, too,
Aunt Polly, Alma, and a gaggle of the
ancients, all their faces lit with love like
treetops in the first pink flush of sunrise.
Clumps of pure white flowers send their light
perfume into the atmosphere. One by one,
the sun illuminates them. See? They line
a smooth and slender road extending all the
way to glory, and their story draws me
through the veil. Each step I take expands my
vista exponentially. Without a sense of
having climbed, I find myself above the
highest mountain with the whole world at my
feet. I holler, Look at me! An echo mocks
good-naturedly, repeating Look at me... at me...
at me....

It’s spring, not even May yet, in my bedroom...
and a warm midsummer day behind the veil,
the breeze sufficient to hold off the heat.
Flat, glossy leaves like workers’ hands are clapping
just above me in the tree I just this minute
sit beside and then lean back on. I can
feel my eyelids flutter. No! I want to
stamp this afternoon upon my memory—
to paint indelibly a picture of the
bright green rolling landscape—fields of corn
and soybeans; stands of maple, cottonwood,
and Dutch elm trees; old barns crying out for
paint; and steeples, tractors, skinny winding
roads where pickup trucks make clouds of
dust that chug with them from house to
road to town and back.

What odd place have I landed in? Is this 
a slice of Heaven, or Ohio? I need you here
to anchor me in your accommodating
vision of reality—not physical
(the spirit flies, defying gravity)—
but not allowing me to paint the sky
with candy clouds and overlook the cyclone’s
eye. I need to know that you can see them
too—the ancients in new incarnations,
beaming, calling, Look at me... at me... at me....

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