This is It
By: Jessica Barksdale
I will not attempt a reformation
of your ornate theology
but tell you of mine, which is none,
at least on my sane days.
On others, I believe we are all
spits of energy repeatedly
birthed to practice life
on this planet, trying
out bodies like new clothing,
the ultimate vacation,
I spent years as an animal,
mostly dog and cat.
Though my fear of death suggests
many quick insect lives. Whap!
We don’t progress to human
but bound like pool balls
across the green velvet
of experience. Coyote, mantis,
chimp, human, black bear, giant squid.
At some point, we don’t come back,
figuring something out,
whatever it may be.
This is what I believe
when I don’t believe
we are here,
and then we are not.
Jessica Barksdale’s fifteenth novel, The Play’s the Thing, is forthcoming from TouchPoint Press in 2021. Her poetry collection When We Almost Drowned was published in March 2019 by Finishing Line Press.She is a Professor of English at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, California and teaches novel writing online for UCLA Extension and in the online MFA program for Southern New Hampshire University.
''This Is It' came from a prompt a couple of friends and I were working on this past summer during lockdown (one of the lockdowns). We thought to focus on belief systems and how they help folks get by, especially during trying times (like now).
An atheist in general, I do have moments where I realize that atheism is relatively limited. After all, we are floating in the middle of nowhere on a rock encased by a shimmering and slim oxygen layer. Miracle, right? So while God may not be on nigh, something is nigher or around. There is some kind of plan, though no one I know seems to really know what it is.
And also, as a person who lives with animals, I know without a doubt that their spirits are the same as ours: the bodies they inhabit are just constructed differently. But the energy is the same.
So I thought I would try to explain it all, and once again, realized I cannot."