A Resting Place
I climb a ridge of fractured granite
bordering a lake.
Carpeted with thickened moss
in a variety of green,
the surface of the rock is soft.
A V-shaped fracture at the top
proves long and wide enough
to be a shallow grave.
I fit into this space
with room to spare.
A vulture poised above the trees
hovers over me.
I rise and then descend
to join by brother and my sons
fishing down below,
hoping for a flash of life,
a walleye tugging on the line.
When a young boy, I managed to survive
the rhetoric designed to save my soul
in sermons picturing a lake alive
with liquid flames as my eternal goal.
These fearful images would fill my mind,
unless I was distracted by the size
of Mrs. Johnson, four-foot-five; some kind
of fur that formed a stole with beady eyes;
a palsied arm that Jesus never fixed;
an ancient lady rouged with apple red;
sunlight filtered through stained glass and mixed
with motes that danced above the preacher's head,
though dancing was a sin, a certain bridge
to Hell and, in the church, a sacrilege.