The View From Heaven
self portrait as Christ of St. John of the Cross, by Salvador Dali
My fingers flex and caw like a raven’s bones.
Without flight, my own shadow keeps me
company as John, Matthew, Luke, and Mark
take our old boat out on the lake. I’m yellow
against brown wood, they’re cloud puffs, blue
sky. Mountains of nights with friends, luscious
green, rowing the boat to shore. Hallelujah.
If only I could walk on water again. If only John
could see me now, it’d be like that day he teased:
You’ll never make it back to the boat. You’ll
be stuck out there forever. If only he knew that
red wine, my swaggering sea-strides, our hearty
laughs were personal miracles just for us friends.
If only they all knew this is what we’d sacrifice.
These days, I feel like the peasant children I used
to preach about on the mount, the ones from the
cursed valley around Old Jerusalem where wicked
souls sacrificed their children into the dark. It was
called Gehenna, I told them, the worst separation
from those we love at the hand of a parent—Gehenna,
the same root word as hell, like my new view.
Rebecca O'Bern is associate poetry editor of Mud Season Review. Her poems appear in Storm Cellar, Black Coffee Review, Ample Remains, Connecticut Review, and other journals. A recipient of the Leslie Leeds Poetry Prize, she's also received honours from UCONN, Connecticut Poetry Society, and Arts Café Mystic. She tweets @rebeccaobern.
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