You have forty-nine days between death and rebirth if you're a Buddhist. Even the smallest soul could swim the English Channel in that time or climb, like a ten-month-old child, every step of the Washington Monument to travel across, up, down, over or through --you won't know till you get there which to do. He laid on me for a few seconds said Roscoe Black, who lived to tell about his skirmish with a grizzly bear in Glacier Park. He laid on me not doing anything. I could feel his heart beating against my heart. Never mind lie and lay, the whole world confuses them. For Roscoe Black you might say all forty-nine days flew by. I was raised on the Old Testament. In it God talks to Moses, Noah, Samuel, and they answer. People confer with angels. Certain animals converse with humans. It's a simple world, full of crossovers. Heaven's an airy Somewhere, and God has a nasty temper when provoked, but if there's a Hell, little is made of it. No longtailed Devil, no eternal fire, and no choosing what to come back as. When the grizzly bear appears, he lies/lays down on atheist and zealot. In the pitch-dark each of us waits for him in Glacier Park.
Maxine Kumin - 1925-2014
The Hermit Goes Up Attic
Up attic, Lucas Harrison, God rest his frugal bones, once kept a tidy account by knifecut of some long-gone harvest. The wood was new. The pitch ran down to blunt the year: 1811, the score: 10, he carved into the center rafter to represent his loves, beatings, losses, hours, or maybe the butternuts that taxed his back and starved the red squirrels higher up each scabbed tree. 1812 ran better. If it was bushels he risked, he would have set his sons to rake them ankle deep for wintering over, for wrinkling off their husks while downstairs he lulled his jo to sleep. By 1816, whatever the crop goes sour. Three tallies cut by the knife are all in a powder of dead flies and wood dust pale as flour. Death, if it came then, has since gone dry and small. But the hermit makes this up. Nothing is known under this rooftree keel veed in with chestnut ribs. Up attic he always hears the ghosts of Lucas Harrison's great trees complain chafing against their mortised pegs, a woman in childbirth pitching from side to side until the wet head crowns between her legs again, and again she will bear her man astride and out of the brawl of sons he will drive like oxen tight at the block and tackle, whipped to the trace, come up these burly masts, these crossties broken from their growing and buttoned into place. Whatever it was is now a litter of shells. Even at noon the attic vault is dim. The hermit carves his own name in the sill that someone after will take stock of him.