I cannot believe in the saccharine
comforter, the eyewash of light,
regardless of will or desire, suffocate in heaven’s wing.
Even in my father’s decrepit Saint James,
stolen from one of his many wives,
its binding flaking away from having been read too much,
I find no word
of that vague realm.
who art in Heaven, etc.
Only the divine roosts
at those altitudes, like rookeries
of angels on an unscalable cliff,
and what’s left to us
is the body at some unsettled date,
rising to everlasting
and on and on and on.
So where did it come from,
this plump realm of cherubs, where
an aged Jehovah’s Witness who always
wanted to play the piano insists
she’ll be playing “Clair de Lune”?
The priest at the funeral will speak of nothing else
but those wings waiting, hung upon their hooks, tailored suits
in a clothing store we never expected
to afford. O dim realm,
I do not think
the dead are in heaven. My brother
who killed himself on Sunday
is not today caught up in an angel’s wing.
Nor would he have wanted to be.
I sit with him in the swamp each morning, by the sad fact
of his torn and discarded flesh;
neither of us says anything. It’s all too clearâ€“
the light of the body
is all we know