Daniel Westover

Of Flesh and Heaven

I admit it beckons me, that storied place
of harps and hymns and haloed seraphim.
I confess I lift eyes skyward; that I raise
my hands toward the stars, and that I dream
of wings. But the comforts of familiar earth:
a midnight binge; the sweet, soft grind of sex;
dry-biting gin, and velvet haze of sloth
pull me, are Sirens singing from the rocks.

This is, of course, my station: stuck between
chimp and cherub; lord of animals,
yet heaven’s leper. Even as the sun
inspires me to shin up these mortal walls,
I cover my eyes, squint in its brilliance,
crawl back to my penumbral comfort zone,
where certainties of flesh quick-blunt the sense
of wanting to discard my blood and bone.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not saying no
to all the trumpets, thrones, and ivory towers.
I’d love a long silk robe, a gilt halo,
a white-washed mansion with a splash of flowers.
But might I, sometimes, lie in bed for days
and watch slow shadows inch across the walls?
Or is that heaven, like the good book says,
devoid of darkness, downtime, idle lulls?

I can’t deny celestial towns tempt me—
imagination paves their roads with gold
as you’d expect: all burnished, blemish-free—
but I wonder: when we’ve overcome this world,
will perfect wings grow heavy on our backs?
How long before, like Icarus, I glide
toward the sun, so that the fastening wax
will melt, and send me crashing back to shade?