All the way to heaven is heaven,
Saint Catherine of Sienna supposedly said,
and on most days, replete with
the stabbed, shot, run-over or into,
the stroked, heart-seized, and cancer-stricken,
I’d say bullshit and be done with it.
But today, at the tail-end of April, the sun warming
things up, I’m in shorts and a T-shirt, airing
my body out in a backyard chaise,
ready to emerge at last from winter’s
long gestation in flannel and sweaters.
I’m listening to the nearby maple scratch an itch
against the clapboards,
and a downy woodpecker’s got my foot tapping;
I’m letting things go, deep breathing
with a phoebe’s wheezy fee-be.
Game on now, chickadees
have changed their tune—
it’s all hey sweetie, hey sweetie
in the shine and sheen of new leaves.
A cardinal cranks up its engine, a catbird mews
and whistles, and a mourning dove responds
to the earth’s tilt with soft, insistent coos.
When I shut my eyes, the wind DJs a mix
of all these singular voices, and the delirium
of their song won’t take no for an answer.
Take joy whenever you can get it,
a wise old poet wrote and how can I refuse
this day that seems shaped for my delight,
this luck-of-the-draw moment in the sun,
the air rippling with a green iridescence.
So I say I do, I do to the day’s proposal
and, letting my human flesh
take on the divinity of this transient rapture,
I float on April’s soft warm air,
even my sweat-stained T-shirt like raiment,
for now my listening body an ear that hears
the kingdom always here.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.