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Thinking about Heaven

I lay, and thought about heaven.
I was eight. The ceiling offered no clue.
The problem was not: Am I going?
But: When I get there, what do I do?

The show, they said, would run and run
Forever. That was my major fear.
However pleasant what you did there was,
How would it feel in its millionth year?

I sensed a nightmare coming on.
The principal task was to comprehend
How big heaven is in time and space;
To size it up from end to end.

I panicked when I saw an endless line
Of rods of time laid whitely in the gloom
Forever and forever; would not say amen
To that infinite horror in the room.

The curtains flickered in the night.
Groaning, I prayed for sleep, which came.
Afterwards, they told me that eternal
And everlasting are not the same,

That heaven is eternal, outside time,
Which measurement of years or miles cannot record.
Later, I had my appendix out
And got a notion of the great reward

As a sort of anaesthetic
And Jesus as the surgeon with the knife.
This model served a stopgap purpose
Until the time came in my life

When the problem didn’t figure any more.
Heaven has receded, but earth designs
Equivalent dilemmas, and the ceiling still
Encodes its messages in cracks and lines.

Audio file

Listen to this poem — read by the author