High Fever

I'm sick and staring at the ceiling in
my attic bedroom and wondering what
will happen if the seam that divides and
joins the upside-down V of the roof, and
all at once, should separate. And down steps
an angel to tell me that I've just died
but that I shouldn't worry--I'm going
to meet God. I'm just nine years old, I say.
Didn't you mean to come for Grandfather?
He's in the room across the hall. Mother

walks in. Are you alright, she asks. Do I
look alright, I snap. I'm sorry--I'm fine,
I mean. She feels my forehead. You're burning
up, she says. I saw an angel, I say.
Where, Mother asks. When? Up there, I say. Just now.
Oh, she says. Was it a male angel or
a female angel? I forget, I say.
No--female. Oh, she says. I wonder what
they're wearing in Heaven these days. She smiles.
You don't believe me, I say. Well, she says,
did she speak? What did she say? It's my time,
I say. Your time for what, she asks. My time
to go, I say. Go where, Mother asks. Up
to Heaven, I say. Oh, she says. And what
did you say to her, she asks. I told her
I'm only 9 and there's been a mistake
and she must want Grandfather because he's
a lot older than I am. I told her
to try the room across the hall. I see,
Mother says. Are you sure you weren't dreaming?
I wasn't dreaming, I say. You heard me
yourself. I heard you talking in your sleep,
she says. No, I say. It was real. Sometimes
our dreams seem real to us, she says. Tell me,
she says, sitting on the edge of the bed,
do you want to die? I'm not sure, I say.
It would be nice to see God but I
want to live, too. Can't I have it both ways?
Yes, she says, looking out the window, but
not at the same time. It's started to rain.
And anyway I've got school tomorrow.
I don't think you'll go to school tomorrow,
she says. Oh, I say. Then I fall asleep.

Mother wakes me. How do you feel, she asks.
Alright, I say. What about the angel?
What angel, she asks. The one I told you
about, I say. And when was that, she asks.

Gale Acuff's poetry has been published in Ascent, Ohio Journal, Florida Review, Poem, Maryland Poetry Review, Adirondack Review, Danse Macabre, Worcester Review, South Dakota Review, Santa Barbara Review, and many other journals. She has authored three books of poetry: "Buffalo Nickel" (BrickHouse, 2004), "The Weight of the World" (BrickHouse, 2006), and "The Story of My Lives" (BrickHouse, 2008). Gale has taught university English in the US, China, and the Palestinian West Bank.

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