Bio Note: In Fall 2004 I had a month-long writing residency at The Whiteley Center, in Friday Harbor, on San Juan Island, WA. Most of that month I worked on a long poem of mourning about my mother, who had died a few months earlier. Near the end of my residency I woke up one night crying and shaking from this dream. I am still an agnostic, but I've never forgotten the dream.
Died and Went To
Imagine my surprise when I found myself in heaven not some faux representation, some nirvana-come-lately, but the real deal, angels and all and yes, the Devil was there, implied though not showing his face. There wasn’t much in the way of faces but holy-moley there were clothes. The demon tracking me was quite a dresser although he wasn’t exactly a demon, more a guy in search of a little love which he wasn’t getting from me. I understood there were choices just like when skin and bones defined us, that I could embrace darkness or light or even both, that I was strong enough to let him wrap his suede-jacket arms with their feather-like tassels around me and it wouldn’t mean I’d picked hell. In fact there wasn’t really hell unless we chose to make one, obstinately turning away from joy just like we did on earth. What surprised me most was that I was still me, that the traits engraved in life held on in death. That the ones I loved were there even if I couldn’t see them clearly. In fact, I could invite them in for tea, my mother and three sisters who by then were also dead, I could make cups of hot peppermint for us, in a room with soft chairs and small tables, no walls but the cosmos, the soft light of stars. I could call up the man I’d married once wherever in the Afterlife he was still resolutely choosing pain, even for him there was a cozy chair, a cup of herb, the chance to decide differently. A sort of golden being let me know these things obliquely, showing more than telling like any decent maker ought to do, not God exactly but His agent. An embrace was offered there, too, but I turned it down. Once a reporter, always a reporter, you never lose that feeling you should stay detached, and I was still new, still looking around. When he heard I’d turned away from light’s caress, the stunned look on the non-face of the dark one told me I’d rejected something special, a pleasure so intense no sane soul would say No, that the radiant feathers of the angel, the pulsing body of the angel, are the closest thing to heaven you can get in paradise, there is a flight of golden stairs and the way up lies through Yes.
©2021 Penelope Moffet
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