And Then?

A Buddhist monk once said
    that life is like stepping
                                                   into a boat 
                              that is already sinking.
Death: it’s the apples rotting in the yard.

My mother says she is not afraid of death, but of dying.
Not me.  I am terrified of death,
its finality.
        	             Lights out.   
Or else, eternity.
    But first, the dusty volume propped open on the welcome desk,
                                          thick as a phonebook
The careful catalogue of my choices
to be considered:
                         The lies I told without blinking
                 All the homeless I have walked past 
 The mornings I left without saying I love you.

Humble, courageous, and kind:
           my mother will go to heaven.
Her heart is just enormous,
like Audrey Tautou in Amélie,
dipping her hands into sacks of grain
			                    at the market.
I might go to hell:
	I don't save birthday cards
        or love letters.
        I hoard unread novels
	and believe I am what I wear.
     I am bad
at listening

even as the Buddhist Zen says gently
          until death there is nothing

4 thoughts on “And Then?

  1. i don’t believe you’ll go to hell because you’re not afraid to tell the truth. (most of us probably are.) as the grim reaper says, death is the greatest thing since sliced bread; he’s the slicer, and we’re the bread. sorry i haven’t managed to write that essay yet. i’ve been a bit bogged down by winter blues and christmas blahs lately, but i’ll come around eventually. thanks for the lovely poem. (by the way, the great thai buddhist teacher ajahn chah said that he never fretted when he broke a cup, because he’d always looked at it as already broken. no sense in crying over spilled milk if you know it’s bound to spill anyway, right?) and don’t worry–you and your mother are both going to heaven!

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