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Crossing Over by Jerry McGinley

It is not what I expected—crossing over—
no tunnel of glaring lights, no blare of trumpets,
no crescendo of celestial choirs, no harps
or halos, no sounds at all.  I am not alone though.  
Other ethereal shades wisp past me, silent, pallid and frail,
detached, never making eye contact, gliding by,
though motionless, as if riding on a moving
airport walkway—hypnotized, paralyzed, mesmerized.

Am I the only soul aware of these other ghosts?
Maybe it’s because I’m new here.
Maybe I’ll adapt, meld into a lifeless trance,
slip into my silent, interminable self.
But what if, what if I should meet another neophyte
phantasm?  Could I catch its ghostly gaze,
wink, smile, smash through that silent spectral shield?
What if we should slip off into the eerie haze,
away from sightless, colorless eyes?
Could we ever break that wraithlike spell?

No.  It will not happen.  We’re beyond that now.
We have crossed over.  I will linger in this limbo
land, limp, alone until my name is called.
But what if there is no other place—no next phase,
no Deva Loka, no Rapture or Reincarnation,
no Heaven nor Nirvana—only icy silence, vacant shadows?

What if I am simply one of them, wafting stoically
along my way, empty-eyed, vacuous, beyond mirth,
beyond sorrow, beyond existence, beyond rebirth?
But I will adjust.  I can do this!  But wait!  
What is that dazzling light?  A tunnel?  
A gate?  A chute toward some other circle
Of Dante’s seven stairs to the inferno?
Should I take a chance and launch myself
toward that frigid, burning light?  What if I miss?
Maybe it’s a test.  Only the strongest reach Salvation.
Or maybe it’s a trick, a trapdoor to fiery Damnation.
Freefall for the faithless—suddenly I am sucked
forcefully toward the light.  Wind screams in my ears.
I smolder in the soft cool light, reaching, stretching,
touching, nearly grasping, aware, fully aware… Oh,
I see it now.  I wish I could tell you, but I…

Author of four published novels and over a hundred published poems, stories, and articles, Jerry McGinley edits and publishes Lake City Lights, An Online Literary Anthology.  He is working on his sixth book, a collection of stories and poems, tentatively titled When the Storm Hits and also a book of detective stories titled Lake Redemption.