Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Populating Heaven


         If we belonged 
to the dead, if we had our own
Egyptian culture of care—
the amulets of home entombed
for solace everywhere—
would we then have found
a better way to cast beyond
the merely given earth?
         If you want to follow me
you'd better leave your plaid
suitcase and makeup kit
behind.  I hope you won't
mind the narrow corridor;
the air in the chamber's
thinned out.  In this dark
I think my life's an old hinge
creaking in silence.
         Open the door
and you'll see the creatures
I imagined while you were waiting:
the green-eyed dog upright
on his throne, the winged lion,
the woman whose third eye
brightens the room.
She's the grinding lapis to paint
the veins of her breast.
Her nipples are coated with gold.
         It's true they rarely speak
but you're welcome
to ask their names.
Most days they lie
and dream among the harps.

They suffice
for themselves, neither
giving nor receiving.

See how they wither
in the momentary glance, 
turn to dust on the
steps we climbed
to get here.  

Credit


From Same Life by Maureen McLane. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. Copyright © 2008 by Maureen McLane. All rights reserved.

Author


Maureen N. McLane

Maureen N. McLane is the author of the poetry collections Mz N: the serial: A Poem-in-Episodes (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016). She lives in New York City.

Date Published: 2008-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/populating-heaven