Just when you think you're dead you're not--you're up in Heaven or down in Hell, eternal life is what it is in either place swears my Sunday School teacher, she's 25, old enough to know or to know better I guess and I'm only 10, I don't know beans but I do know that I like living and I don't want to die but I have to, it's like a law of God's although Adam and Eve and Satan account for it but then again God always knew they'd bring death into the world, that's just the way it was and without all the bad stuff (which ain't so bad but good) we'd have no Jesus and that's pretty much religion. I hope that’s all. If you're religious then you never die swears our Sunday School teacher but it's got to be the right kind of religious and that's ours she ends then smiles so we ten-year- olds smile back and then she sets us free for another week when we'll return for more God-and-Jesus-and-the-Holy Ghost and as I walk home from church and Sunday School I'll be thinking a little more about death than I did the week before and I still don't want to die even though I get eternal life in Heaven, if God sees that it’s good--I'd be satisfied with life that never ends down here on Earth but no luck. Even Heaven doesn’t measure up. Everybody loves Jesus my Sunday School teacher says, that's why we crucified Him, then she set us ten-year-olds free for another week but after class I asked her what she meant, it sounded some stupid or at least very intelligent but she looked up from her Bible where she was buried in the red words, they belong to Jesus or at least He's the one who spake 'em and I wanted to ask, too, what red words look like when they're spoken, it’s a fair question, but I forgot it when she said What I mean, dear boy, is that it's all in God's plan for everybody so I said Yes ma'am. Then left and walked home. But quicker. When you die you're dead for good my Sunday School teacher says and maybe she's right but maybe she's wrong and I guess I'll find out when I die and if I do, find out that is, I'll report back, if that's possible, but I'm betting it's not, no one has yet that I know about but then I'm only ten years old, I don't know about any -thing, really, except that I don't want to die at all but I'm not sure that's knowledge and after Sunday School today I asked our teacher if there's a way I can tell everybody when I'm dead what it's like over there but she only smiled and asked Over where, Dear? Do you mean over here? One day you die and then there's the resur -rection but not really, you stay dead, on Earth anyway but maybe there really is an immortal soul and it lives again up in Heaven or down in Hell if you can call Hell life, maybe so though at church and Sunday School it's not much of one but anyway if I get to live again I'd rather do it hereabouts, on Earth I mean, and kind of take up where I left off before I kicked, still alive that is and maybe having fun--maybe I died by falling off a mountain but if I could live again I'd have a parachute or a longer, stronger rope. Or not leap.
Gale Acuff has had hundreds of poems published in a dozen countries and has authored three books of poetry. He has taught tertiary English courses in the US, PR China, and Palestine, where he teaches at Arab American University.