Prayer to Enter Heaven Alive, Once
by Colin Pope
Or just to peer between the elevator doors
like a nervous applicant, or from an observation deck
somewhere in Tibet, to thumb a yuan into the slot,
spin the knob on the tower viewer and pick out
an aloof, cloud-scudded sliver, gleaming high.
I have a lot of lasts waiting for me, lord, and I need
to sever my jealousy from its organ, to irradiate
and shrivel it before we meet. I can’t be any part you.
I’ll have to stop loving one day, and then
a last breath, which predicates a last thought.
How long will I have between those two?
I don’t care about the meaning of life, or by which road
pain drives its mule-cart into me, jangling
a curio shop upon metal hooks. What will be
the last thing I forget? I held a flashlight in a tent
and swept away the night, but it kept coming back.
The feel of that. If you told me the day, father,
I could stroll the pastures with an umbrella,
wait for the right cyclone to deposit me close.
Or, no, sorry. Forgive the haywire powerplant I feed
with dread below the dams, and its sparks,
its overflowed spillway jetting me to presume.
I do not deserve to know the smell of the beyond,
be it oranges or burnt toast, or to wander near enough
to hear its inverted bustle. Perhaps only
a postcard with a view of anything—a blind rectangle
of white light—just to keep. Perhaps
a rub-on tattoo in the Cracker Jack, lord, or stick figures
on a post-it above my bed, or maybe a final text:
a smiley, a thumbs-up. Not to confirm paradise
but that there’s a place, a way to see, manners
collected around a center. I pray there’s nothing left
to pray for up there, and no reason to come back.
This poem first appeared in Barrow Street