Many of the houses I was quite
fond of, particularly those
in which you entered directly upon
an essential and obviously
lived-in room, as this implied
a sense of comfort and lack
of self-consciousness regarding
being a living person.
More often than not, however,
the houses opened into mostly
nothing; non-areas with high,
glass topped tables supporting
a small number of well-curated
candles and walls with inoffensive
paintings, such as of a tulip
field in the summer.
Occasionally these rooms would house
more somber depictions
conveying the unique and serious
tenor of that home. Framed prints
from a local gallery or museum
like Masaccio, whose paintings
are off-putting to most people
in the way the children look
like old men and the women holding them
gaze absently at a point beyond
the visible tableau at something
that must be unfathomably grotesque
but which doesn’t disconcert
the women at all
because of the intense suffering
they have borne witness to.
“Let’s go save a bunch of lives today”
is a reasonable suggestion
for only a very small number
of people. Members of proud
fraternities such as those that jump
from airplanes to put out fires.
These are not the people
I know. The people I know
serve ossobuco on platters
of fine white porcelain. They break
roses at the stem and suck
the marrow. You can see how their feathers
have barely fallen off.
In time the changes ceased.
that we had to perform the same tasks
in the same ways
as many times as we could bear
and that by this we would come to know
our true feelings.
Or that from the disillusion
of schedules and plans, expectations,
comforting routines and
up from the wreckage of this
façade of normalcy
our enlightenment would arise.
Predictably, our moment
never came. Blessed
with a long and generally
trauma-free childhood, we arrived
by the municipal kiosks, diminishing
circles of friends, the in-
fallible signaling that what remains
is to play out one’s days with the least
struggle or erudition.
We realized we had grown up.
Like so many an unwanted bride
our thoughts retreat
to early years; years spent
incorporating the changes; the slow
sliding of one clay brick
across the surface
of another; adjusting the umbrella
above the more sensitive flowers; a favorite
song or two that can be returned to
the way some return to past
lovers or the scenes of famous battles.
When we arrive in Heaven
we won’t be questioned. There are
no questions in Heaven.