My Heavens

"As long as there is earth under your feet
someone must dig into it." I learned this first
at age thirteen from Sophie Psaris,
once of Salonika, then of Detroit,
my next-door neighbor and mother to all
living things, who kneeled to the cold March earth
and the wild flags that dotted the junked fields
behind her garage. Rats thrived on the scraps
she set out. "They have to live too," said Sophie
leaving the gate to her fenced yard open. 

There must be an arena of heaven
open to all stray creatures, there must be
fields of newly turned red earth, the red earth
of La Mancha steeped in rain, and black earth too,
earth ripened by onion skins and orange rinds.
There must be room for the dead, their bodies
still inert and weighed down with desire,
great hulking bodies and tiny ones as well
that once were wrens and sparrows, their feathers
riffling in the winds off the sky’s restless waves.

Advertisement

April, 1947, the war over,
Steve and Eli home, their long, carved faces
shadowed, their eyes turned in. All down the block
houses close early. In the dark Sophie
opens the back gate to let the aroma
of rotting roses flood the untended fields
she scours for wild flowers. In my high room,
startled by the bark of a spade on stone,
I hang between two worlds, heaven and earth,
as the clouds pass over holding their tongues.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Imtiaz Cajee, nephew of Ahmed Timol, poses with his book about the activist on Aug. 24 in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, South Africa. (AP Photo, File)
A judge has overturned a finding of suicide and ruled that Ahmed Timol was murdered by South Africa’s Security Police 45 years ago.
Anthony EganOctober 23, 2017
Activists with Planned Parenthood demonstrate in support of a pregnant 17-year-old being held in a Texas facility for unaccompanied immigrant children to obtain an abortion, outside of the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017.
Texas bishops: "No one -- the government, private individuals or organizations -- should be forced to be complicit in abortion."
Catholic News ServiceOctober 23, 2017
It is time for the laity to speak out and act like true disciples of Christ in spreading the joy of the Gospel. 
Thomas J. ReeseOctober 23, 2017
Pope Francis speaks from the Vatican as he addresses Canadian youths in a video message that was included in a Salt and Light Television program on Oct. 22 (CNS photo/courtesy Holy See Press Office).
“The world, the church, are in need of courageous young people, who are not cowed in the face of difficulties," the pope said.
Michael J. O’LoughlinOctober 23, 2017