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One Life

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I don’t know when I stopped believing in heaven,
or if I do. Maybe I just stopped receiving heaven.

The sun rose. I climbed into the pines’ brittle
crowns. You could say I was retrieving heaven.

Not a place or a time, but blindness to everything
but one light, pulsing, pleasing: heaven.

We married in September. Everyone was still
wearing their summer shirts, sleeves of heaven.

It was white, there was a bend, and the car
spun. It was then I prayed, pleading with heaven.

When he goes limp, lie him down on the gurney,
Mom. Oxygen mask, breathing heaven.

The hospital shines, our son flies in and out.
The snow falls hard, relieving heaven.

He loves the colors of planets. I teach him
their lifelessness: beautiful, deceiving heaven.

I don’t know who is buried beneath me
but I hear her break as I am leaving heaven.

How can you cry for one ruined life, Maria,
when you could be grieving for heaven?

Source: Poetry (May 2012)

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This poem originally appeared in the May 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

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One Life

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