We Are All Haunted

by Megan Kennedy

She wanted to die young.

Her theory was, 
All the enlightened and spiritually
Significant people
Didn’t need to live that long.
To her, it was a badge of honor
To leave this place early.

She had formulated this 
From hours of reading:
Philosophy, religion, biographies
Crime statistics, metaphysics
And fiction of the loftiest kind.
She said, I believe I have it figured out.
The Hindus had it right.
Your soul will keep coming here
Over and over
Until you’re ready to rejoin 
The universe at its highest understandings.
Those who die young
Well, they didn’t need to be here
Any longer.

All the kids beaten and murdered 
By loved ones and strangers.
All the angelic teenagers
Killed in traffic accidents.
All the world-changers 
Who barely had time to 
Give us their message,
To show us the light,
These people were, somehow,
Finally finished.

Martin Luther King.  Jesus Christ. 
JFK. RFK. Abraham Lincoln.
Dimebag Darrell.  Some prodigy
Drummer from a metal band
I’d never heard of.
Heath Ledger. Princess Di. Anne Frank.
Jimi Hendrix. Hank Williams. Mozart.
Bob Marley. Joan of Arc.

She had a list
Longer than my arm.

                       I would point out some flaws in her theory:
                       Gandhi.  Mother Teresa. Pope John Paul II.
                       Newton.  Einstein.  Galileo. 

Her arguments were:
The scientists were smart,
Not enlightened.
Gandhi just stood up for a cause, 
And so do a lot of stupid people.
And Mother Teresa, well,
According to her own letters, 
She couldn’t even feel God anymore.
But she kept helping the poor anyway.
Wonderful, yes, but disqualified
In this particular running.

                      She is the only person I know
                      Who could trivialize Mother Teresa 
                      And actually make you stop and think about it.

And so, this is why, she,
My best friend and my own personal
Piece of enlightenment
Wanted to die young.
Because it would mean she was
On the right track,
Not only for her own ascension,
But for the overall well-being
Of the universe
And mankind.

                     I said, why don’t you just kill yourself then?
                     Guarantee it?

But suicides don’t count, she said.
It has to be an accident, or a murder,
Or some natural cause.
You can’t cheat your way
Into that great gig in the sky.

And so she waits, every day,
Wondering if today is it.
Reading her Aurelius and Dali Lama,
Nietzsche and the Bible,
Aquinas and the Satanic Bible,
Alchemy, occult, fundamentalist Islam.
She keeps learning, and searching,
And by now, she can debate brilliantly
With anyone of any religion, 
Any belief.
Now she is a force to be reckoned with.

                   I tell her, why don’t you teach?
                   Write a book?
                   Keep a record of all these ideas. 
                   Who knows what may come of them?

But she just smiles from under
Her ratty old blanket
In her favorite armchair.
Sometimes she will reply:
Maybe I will.  
But with any luck,
I won’t have it finished
Before I go.