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By Beth Day
from West Finley,PA

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Prepare me not the black-
the dark-
the still nothingness,
laments the stricken.

Prepare me the luminous
chamber which opens upon
this place called Heaven.

And what should this Heaven be to you?
whispers the friend.

Weakened from affliction, the stricken
requests a story read-
A story of the glistening snow.

Thus the friend reads-
of cool blinding whiteness
so pure the angels revel at the sight,
of branches smooth with crystal coverlets,
of a dusting of starlight lost from the
night sky,
fallen to the white and waiting to arise
again at the sun's departure.

Holding the friend's hand the stricken replies,
"And this be my Heaven."

Day follows day as the stricken is
slowly swallowed by weakness,
beckoning to the friend for another story-
this of horses.

Breathe deeply,begins the friend,
opening the senses to the sweet, mingled
scents of dark humus, molasses grain, new hay.

The great expanse of pasture, well past the horizon, fills with equine images.
The hues of buttercup, maize, ochre.
Some pitch or ebony,
and chestnut, buck-eye, madder brown.
The sound of hoof on rock.

Again the stricken strokes the friend's hand
and weakly says,
"And this be my Heaven."

Time feeds the affliction.
Now mute from weakness
the stricken lies-
listless eyes closed to all distraction
but the friend's continued stories.

Stories of green fields, blue skies,
water, earth and fire. Of warmth,
Each elicits,
"And this be my Heaven."

This day begins the last of many tales,
but as the friend parts lips
the stricken bids quiet.
Leaning near to hear, the friend's tears
spill from saddened eyes and heart.

Taking the friend's face in hands thin and cold
the stricken smiles and searches within
the saddness
and with last heavy breath says,
"And this be my Heaven."

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