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God’s Beard

I.

I ride the river’s current to its ultimate shore. The water is so clear

it looks like the bluest sky, washed by the hands of heavenly maidens.

I arise from the curling river onto a sandy, white shore.

Fruit trees: pear, apple, peach, and plum decorate the garden just ahead.

My body feels transparent. I could walk to the next galaxy, and maybe I will.

My tears and burdens slide behind me like a silk cape unfurling.

As I enter the dense orchard, the flora reveals a path to follow. There are others

traveling with me, the astringent spirits of plants and soulful, fur creatures.

We’re leisurely, pausing to sip the ambrosia dripping from the trees’ trunks.

We know we have a destination, and it arrives with each moment.

As the vegetation thins, we see cameos of a white cliff ahead, so tall

it vanishes into the misty clouds.

The forest ends and a platinum cascade of silky hair carpets the ground.

It travels up and up—all the way to the sky. A whiff of soap

and frankincense welcomes me. I step into the lusciousness and begin

climbing like a bead sliding on a silk cord. I tarry upward on and on,

not really tiring, but rather growing drowsy, napping

from time to time in cocoon-shaped nests.

Dona nobis pacem.

II.

Suddenly, your hand parts the beard and snatches my right ankle. You yank,

pulling me breach though the curtain to the other side.

We’re sitting at the Formica kitchen table on Monticello.

It’s dimly lit like it’s late afternoon, but we haven’t turned the lights on yet.

You and Judy are drinking beer and eating onion dip with potato chips. There’s a

jokey feel to everything: we’re laughing and drawing pictures of each other’s figures:

Judy, beanpole; Marsha, shapely; Mother, top heavy.

I’m not cartooned yet, still too young.

Mother opens her mouth to laugh so heartily that I can see her molars.

Her platinum hair shivers as she shakes with hilarity.

There’s a lull. You turn, take my hand, and stare into my eyes.

“Your prayer is answered,” you say, and for breath

I remember the other side.

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