— 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’m there.

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

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.

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