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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.



Image in header: Patty Wickman. Outside the Garden, 2000. Oil on canvas. 80 x 82 inches. Featured in Image issue 60.

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