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