By Gale Acuff
I wonder where I’ll be on the day I
die, and what I’ll be doing. Miss Hooker
says that death is in-ev-i-ta-bull. That
means it can’t be stopped, at least I can’t stop
it. That’s a good word–in-ev-i-ta-bull.
Maybe she fished it out of the Bible.
And I don’t want to die but it’s no use
pretending that I won’t, Miss Hooker says
–she should know, she’s my Sunday School teacher
and old, maybe 25 to my 10,
so she’ll die long before I will, unless
I die first in some kind of accident
or in some other way that’s God’s will. It
could happen anytime, too, except for
yesterday or just a moment ago.
Death doesn’t happen to you in the past.
That’s birth’s what that is. Then I live my life
and then I die. That’s the order of things,
and I could die tomorrow or next week
or month or year, or next century–it’s
1966 now. And anywhere,
maybe even while I dream, which might be
good because I’d sleep right through it and when
I wake it will just be morning again
though in a different place–Heaven, I hope,
if I’m good, much better than I am now.
Or I might croak on my way to Sunday
School next week, get run over by a car
or truck or Mack or motocycle, or
eaten by a mountain lion if they
still prowl around here. Maybe I was born
with just half a heart or hole in the one
I have, then drop dead in regular school
on the playground or in the lunchroom line
or right before we have to hand in our
math homework and I didn’t do it so
I’m off the hook and it won’t matter that
I get a zero because I’ll be dead.
That would be good. That would teach my teacher
a thing or two. Then there’s my funeral,
where people will cry, at least Mother will,
and one of my sisters, and my dog but he’ll
let loose more of a howl, and they’ll lower
me like I’m on an elevator ride
that only goes down six feet and then gets
stuck and even if they fix it I can’t
come up again and there’s no red button
to press in an emergency. So there
I am for a while, until my soul goes
to God to be judged, I’m not sure when, some
say it stays inside the body until
Judgement Day and some swear the soul escapes
it as soon as your body dies. Maybe
it’s in the Bible as to how that is.
I’ll ask Miss Hooker in class next Sunday,
if I remember. If I’m not dead.
If I am I guess I won’t need to know
so it won’t be all bad. It might be nice,
in fact, as long as I don’t go to Hell,
and the only way to live forever.
I guess I’d find out if I killed myself
but I’d kind of hate to go that far. Still,
the only thing I fear is too much pain
but maybe it wouldn’t last long, just deep.
Miss Hooker says I should live my life like
every second was my last. That’s pretty
sharp. I wish I knew what I was doing
being alive. It would be easier
never having been born but here I am
and for how long I guess I’ll never know
until I can’t know diddly anymore.
Then I guess I’ll know it all, just like God,
Who’s also dead, in His own way. Funny.