Questions Remain

My first administrative assistant, lovely Edna,
so kind, so Southern Baptist. I can hear her
booming voice with its hint of a chuckle.

Edna prayed for me. She prayed for everyone,
but especially for this beer-drinking Yankee
who didn’t believe in heaven,

and so surely is going to hell.
My definition of hell is to never know
the answers to my long list of questions,

while forever craving, deeply yearning.
I had a boss say, “I don’t know what you don’t
know.” I said, “I don’t know what I don’t know.”
I know which of us is smarter.

I dwell on life’s great mysteries but find
the small ones equally confounding:
The Bermuda Triangle and traffic circles.

I flinch when I see a silverfish
or a centipede in the house.
I ask it: What are you doing up here?
You have the entire basement.

Even when they trespass, like the thin spider
that dropped from the ceiling
into the white porcelain bowl
while I was making breakfast,

rather than squash it
I transported the creature outside and
shooed it into the strawberry bed.

I strive each day to be more a source of light
than just a reflection of it.

Human cruelty perplexes me.
The death of a glacier saddens me.
Kind acts make me cry.

While human indifference incenses me,
my cat’s indifference makes me laugh.

If I’m wrong and Edna’s right,
I’m going to miss seeing
a lot of good people when I die,
and I know I won’t get answers there.

And still I ask the questions:
What is my place in the universe?
Where did I park the car?

Tree Top

My bedding is soft,
the batting warm,
and I am snugged in tight
between Teddy Bear toting his snare drum
and Mrs. Claus offering a cookie.

We lay in the dark infinitum,
and I forget. Well.
I never really forget,
but I put the thought away until that day,
when suddenly we shift and sway.

I feel the sense of rising
and I know it’s beginning.
Honking noises – what I’ve been told is laughter –
alarm me. I hear scraping sounds, and then,
oh, the light pours in.

The comforting weight lifts off of me. I want to cry,
“Teddy, don’t go. Don’t leave me, Mrs. Claus.”
But I am mute with terror. Crumpled tissue,
my last shield, peels away,
and I look into the shining, gleeful eyes of my tormentor.

She lifts me, she peers at me, fluffs me, appears so caring,
then – up she steps, higher than a being should ever be.
She reaches even higher – HIGHER – past garish lights,
past my friends hanging in frozen silence,
and my heart plummets deeper than the depths of endurance.

But oh, to reach the tree top,
where she nestles me amongst sturdy branches.
I look through eyes of jet black bead
and become part of the glorious light.
Just so, it’s hard to be an angel
when you’re afraid of heights.