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Brooke StanishApril 18, 2024

you discovered heaven spread to the edges
of a max lucado picture book you slid to the librarian
like a business transaction, as in: for 2 weeks, please
(i’d like to trace the golden pathways of this place
with my fingers
), leading toward what you figured
was willy wonka’s factory or a ripley’s museum
with those mirrors in which you stared at your body
curl until you no longer understood: what is this body?
anymore, which is why you wanted heaven
in the first place, isn’t it? why when you asked
your mother: is that really what it looks like?
& she said: i guess, you packed a box
with your stuffed dog & some pop-tarts
& waited on the street corner
like you saw bugs bunny do once: one thumb
extended heavenward;

your daydream consisted of incongruent stills:
God arrives in your mother’s blue van & takes your box,
an angel shows you to your room which is, of course,
lined with books & stuffed dogs with eyes as
droopy as yours when you discovered you couldn’t go—
no, not yet—as in: (never?) your fingers caught
in the pearly gates of your picture book closed.
your heaven-lust frightened you
like angels in the living room.
it’s not that you wanted to die so much as it was that
you wanted to feel your significance—you wanted your love
to steal you from earth & your body to evaporate,
heavenward: a plume & then ash,
joan of arc’s skin settling in a pile,
too neat for death

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