At 5:15 Laney sprints outside for
her ritual afternoon renaissance
to hold her breath at the painful beauty
of the sun setting ablaze the
hickory and tupelo trees in the
most living light she's ever seen. She sends
her joy soaring in a reverent
flight through the gilded leaves to join an angel
blue, low-gliding heron, and wonders
if life looks so blessed from the northwest
bank of the creek. An hour
later fireflies begin a desultory
dance among the damaged knees bottoms trees,
inattentive trees, her mother muses.
The lightning bugs flicker like
lingering spirits whose bodies were
snuffed by a fire in '55.
Next day on the way home from
Smiley Brothers' Buffalo Farm she views
a vermilion sun in a shimmering
building slanting toward the highway.
Laney notices the car is a split-
second ahead of its mirrored twin,
and at the moment she longs for a
shifted slant, to see into the future
one hundred startled birds
transpose their image on her sun.
That night in bed Laney blurs her
eyes a bit to make the hall light beams
reach out to her. She does it
every night and fancies when they touch
her she will fall asleep to pleasant
dreams. For some odd reason "ascension
into heaven" runs through her mind,
and Laney is enveloped by an
God must be light not
metaphorically, like the way, the truth,
but simply-an idea unadorned.
That would explain how God is not
male or female (she always thought
God too fatherly). God as light
would not be judgemental, vengeful,
jealous. God would punish only as
we see reflections, becoming
connoisseurs of mirrors to punish
ourselves. God would be the chiseled, ruby
laser, snipping, zapping, giving
people second chances. Spotlight men
would be high priests, emerging from
their incensed chambers to bathe our
icons for their mass processions.
Television would be a matrix
of damnation, mere humans using
God the light to send a message:
consume, ignore, exploit, be bored.
God as light does not frighten Laney.
She knows the laws of nature,
refraction, optical illusions are
allowed. At ten years of age she is
too innocent to think herself