If I Return

After I die,
After my body is lowered into the grave,
Burnt into ashes,
or fed to wild dogs,
If I return,
May it be as a bird.

Lifespan of months or years, no more,
Driven by season, snow, and storm,
Gleaning with never a Sabbath rest,
Falling to earth with none to mourn,
Banished from thought by all but God,

They sail on placid lakes of blue,
Fly with full-feathered wings
Swim in heaven’s crystal vault,
Split clear skies without a sound,
Surf invisible winds and clouds.

Bound by nature’s laws alone,
They soar . . .
And soar . . .
And soar . . .
After I die, if I return,
May it be as a bird.

My barber read the poem while I prepared to leave. When he turned to give me my
phone, he had tears in his eyes.

“Man,” he said, almost breathless. “Thanks.”