My parents have chosen to die
deep in the dust bowl of Kansas,
where dust to dust is hardly a figure of speech.
My father’s sermons,
still coming to him at eighty-three
are chock full of personal anecdotes.
He sprinkles them into scripture
like holy sugar.
Recently my brother found a photograph
of the two of us
He is five and I am two, dressed oddly
in frumpy hats and too big clothes.
On the back my mother wrote:
We are missionaries to Africa,
words my older brother declared to her
after dressing us for the journey.
Immortal souls are fine
but the sweet ache of this world,
this skin, these dress-up clothes,
the mom, the dad, the kids,
become more precious by the minute.
Where our bodies will go from here,
to dust or to the Congo armed with bibles
and cast-off clothing, or somewhere else
is bothering me just now
as my father in Kansas removes his glasses
and thinks hard
about the new heaven and the new earth.
(published in The Cresset, 2008)