Anita was serving tea on a small balcony.
It's now or never, she told me,
If you want heaven and seek it,
Your seeking is forever -
Because it's now or never.
If I see a woman praying silently
In a church, I asked, or a man
Kneeling before a sacred image,
Or folks fasting on a holy day,
Are you saying they will never reach heaven?
Those are harsh words for you, Anita.
Not at all, she answered,
What is unreachable is right where you are.
There's nowhere to go if you're already there.
Tell me, Anita,
When you fell on ice last winter
And fractured the vertebrae of your spine,
You walked like an automaton
With a silent grunt at every step.
Were you in heaven then?
It doesn't seem believable.
Friend. Her voice was gentle.
Your eyes saw a body in agony
And imagined a mouth with a silent cry.
But with every step I took
I was saying: God is my structure,
God is my substance, my joy, my life.
My mind was not where you were looking.
All right, I countered.
The question of questions, then -
Did an all-loving God cause that accident to you?
Those fractures in your vertebrae?
What is your answer to that?
Anita glanced to the sky and said softly,
What fractures? What vertebrae?
Look! There's a hawk circling above us.
It's such a beautiful morning.
Irwin Goldman is a member of the Hamilton Poets (a.k.a. Full Bloom Poets) at Project Find in New York City.