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My old friends are pretty much the same,
a little slower getting out of their chairs,
but the who of them always there
beneath the skin – soul? I’ve become
more comfortable with the idea
that becoming some tree’s root-soil
may be as much as I can hope for
in the afterlife. We might just
cease consciousness and rot.
A Buddhist friend said to me
what is reborn is not a coherent soul;
instead, we are broken down into parts
and separated: my short temper
could go to one person and
my tenderness to another.
My imagination – my most beloved
and successful faculty– could show up
in some petty criminal who dreams
from his cell a world he has
no words for. I don’t know, and how
perverse for religions to insist
that our life-long suffering, from which
all our bad behavior comes, should be
increased in an eternal punishment.
It may be that all pain ceases and
the world grows over our absence
like bark on a scarred tree. I am grateful
to have some poems that when read
will come alive in someone else’s mind,
as if I were there speaking to them,
my hand on their shoulder.
Copyright 2019 Doug Anderson