Stripped bare, hair chopped and goose flesh risen,
you stand before the tribunal and wait
for the foregone conclusion.
As the sentence falls from lips all withered
from sanctimonious wine, a rain of fire descends
and turns you all to cinders.
You thought you had been stripped of everything,
but at that moment you discover
yet another layer to cast off.
As you drop your body, you realize another truth:
there are no absolutes
only a neverending descent,
a turning inward,
from one place to the next.
All around you in the ether, the souls of the judges rise
toward the light they'd been expecting.
Newly opened, you see its other side.
You know it for what it is:
Just another turning
on the same long road.
They think it is the ending.
But you, newly opened,
you know there is no ending anywhere.
You descend again to the earth,
and to the unfinished work before you.
April 2003; June 2003