Simple, linear stories are easy to comprehend and are therefore attractive to many people. God rewards the believers and punishes the unbelievers at the end of history. Or the earth, devoid of a divine mandate, simply dies with the sun billions of years from now. Parents and children with differing beliefs either reconcile their differences or grow apart for good. A person or creature has little tangible presence on earth after death. The true story, of course, is often more complicated and cyclical than people think—as the speaker in this poem recognizes, perhaps, in a moment of heightened awareness. Transcendence—though it’s a fleeting moment in yet another cycle—helps the speaker cope with the psychological burden of feeling like a prodigal child well into adulthood.