— to a neighbor
Do they make love better in heaven or is everyone above it all?
If God’s presence makes heaven preferable,
what do you call it
when your beloved looks inside
and you feel expanded beyond pain?
I’d let him go if he could have strong legs
and a steep slope with snow that flies
into his face as he races down, looking over
his shoulder to make sure
I’d let him go for the perfect road
where he could bend with his Harley
painted with gaudy flames.
And if I could send him his piano
and harmonicas and Charley Musselwhite blues harp
song book and red concertina,
if I could send him his favorite Hawaiian shirts
and his side of the bed
with both of us waking together on a Sunday morn
and two scrambled eggs laced with cheese
and pancakes with pure maple syrup and KCBX
playing some blue grass
and he’d write a note back,
I’d let him go, I would.
Perie Longo, Poet Laureate Emerita (2007–2009) of Santa Barbara, California, has published three books of poetry: Milking the Earth, The Privacy of Wind, and With Nothing Behind but Sky: a Journey Through Grief. She has been on the staff of the annual Santa Barbara Writers Conference for over 25 years, taught in the California Poets-in-the-Schools program since 1984, teaches poetry privately, and is the poetry chair for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. She is a psychotherapist who integrates poetry for healing at Hospice and the Cancer Center for Santa Barbara and Sanctuary Psychiatric Centers and is a past president of the National Association for Poetry Therapy. “A Better Place” is from her collection With Nothing Behind but Sky: a Journey Through Grief and is reprinted by permission.