Heaven's Farthest Gate

 

A delicacy of tumbleweeds somersault over chafed desert roads
A dry wind flickers past rusted cans
A sun obliterates the emerald sky.

I seek the solace of a single tree
Each shred of shade but a mirage --
Again, and gone again.
Sitting upon a dusty rock,
    skin calked with sand and sweat. 
A tear drops to the ground,
    a last bit of moisture which I feel I cannot spare.

From that very tear struck spot
    a small green shoot appears
And then bud,
    A tiny floweret,
        that soon unfurls its azure robes.

Within each petal
Dew drops flowing into rivers
My face reflecting upon the watery surface
A youthful visage belying age and work.

Stepping inside the cool transparency
    the river running,
Streaming to a scented pool,
    from which to sip, to rest, and ultimately... 
        sleep.

Awakening... 
It is the same desert spot,
The illusion came and gone. 
I am still parched, still spent. 
Dry roads crisscross touching to infinity,
Looking out at horizon's edge to wonder why. 

But with no choice to choose
I stand with aching joints
Stumbling past one more random rock.

A patch of lilies blooming in a dry ravine. 
A few more steps reveal a willow branch
And beyond its sleepy the curve a stream from which to drink. 

The sky softens to turquoise red
And gentle stars touch the ground
As sparrows flock to pools of rippling silver lakes
And rain floats a misty cloud through every blade of grass.

What was the flower that I passed? 
Surely it was a dream,
    the kind of fancy that comes to men --
        when hope has sighed a long last breath.

What if I had stopped? 
What if I had not strode fourth another time
To see what was just beyond that other bend? 
What if I had stood my ground
    upon the bleak and lonely spot?


But such questions quickly went their way
    as I picked up my staff
and walked past this Eden spot
To take yet one more step... 

    Beyond Heaven's farthest gate.


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