. Everlasting I must admit, when I arrived in Hell I was surprised. Not, as you might surmise, Because I never reckoned it was real— And surely not because I thought I’d led A sinless life—but owing to the fact I did not know that I had died. You see, It happened in my sleep, the way one hopes It will, with just a bit of luck. So there I was, awake, my vision clearing till I saw I was surrounded by my friends, Who looked at me expectantly, as though They waited for a punch line to sink in. And then I got it. All of them were pals Who’d predeceased me. This was Hell, no doubt! The way things looked, it seemed a party had Been going on for several days at least: Spent pizza boxes, beer cans, bottles … O The bottles!—every one was empty, had Been from the very first. My friends just shrugged, As though it didn’t matter. Then I saw What must have made them so indifferent to The lack of stimulating drink. Across The deadness of that grand salon were half, At least, of all the women I had kissed Or known in any way, and many more Besides—and they were smiling too, at me, The latest to arrive. Each one of them Looked primed and in her prime. And this was Hell? My friends then nudged me with their quiet eyes As if they wanted me to give it my Best shot, and I obliged. I took a breath And squared my most miraculously straight And solid shoulders, taking strides the likes Of which I hadn’t made in twenty years. Babes beckoned. I pressed on. But when I reached That coifed and comely covey I was stunned To find that I felt nothing, not a god- Damned thing. Desire was absent in my loins, Just as desire was missing in those breasts That once had been my heart’s delight. I touched Some anyway, and afterward we all Sat down and wondered where the life had gone. And later on I asked about a small Concern I had, about the Lord of Dark Supposed to rule this place, and I was told He hardly ever comes around, but when He does it’s only to suffice his need For exercise—he never hassles us And seems well pleased that we have joined him in The static corridors of his demesne. The boundless time apportioned us allows A space for speculation: What’s the point Of brand-new bodies if we’ve been deprived Of lust? So how much worse could Heaven be? Eventually our minds adjust, and we Become resigned to the new status quo. First published in Northwoods Journal (2003) . . C.B. Anderson was the longtime gardener for the PBS television series, The Victory Garden. Hundreds of his poems have appeared in scores of print and electronic journals out of North America, Great Britain, Ireland, Austria, Australia and India. His collection, Mortal Soup and the Blue Yonder was published in 2013 by White Violet Press.