Talking to God About Heaven from the Bed of a Heathen

by Chen Chen

Chen Chen

It’s a dark 4AM here, but up where you are, it’s probably always
a shiny noon. So no one there ever thinks thoughts like: I can’t,
I need to, why can’t I sleep, why does this overfull love

fill me with fear? See, the boy I love is asleep beside me,
cocooned in his quilt despite the many blankets of summer.
God, how does he sleep? Why doesn’t my love for him

make me believe in a super-us, give me a sense of giddy
invincibility? Why am I more terrified than ever of the terrible
inevitable? & does he ever ask these 4AM questions?

Or does he believe in souls, eternity, our immortality?
Do you, God? You should know that although I miraculously
agreed to attend Bible camp one summer (my parents pushed

not because they were religious, but because the camp
was free), I don’t & have never believed in you.
Yet here I am: sitting up in bed, thinking about death,

& needing to talk to someone who (reportedly) has the answers.
I know, though, that there are believers who don’t believe
out of fear simply. They actually love you. They reach out

& receive your touch. Like a friend, like a boyfriend, like the boy
beside me, overheating, reeking of sweat, & still (somehow)
asleep. I wish I could feel your warmth, as easily

as I feel his. But I don’t. I feel fear. I hear fear telling me I’m
a body, that’s all. & the boy I love is a body. & bodies die. No
other world, no return to this world in another form. Annihilation.

It isn’t that I didn’t think these were the facts before. It’s that now,
he’s here. I have to try harder. Believe the facts could be
at least a little wrong. Believe if not you, almighty

& only, with your kingdom in the clouds, then something
else. If not a whole slew of gods with an infinity of realms,
if not a climb up & down the karmic ladders of rebirth

till moksha, nirvana, if not any existing promise
of after, of more, then something. Please,
something. Some magic, real as this ripe life with him.

Last updated May 16, 2023