When I was little, I thought that Heaven was North, with a capital N.
Like the up on the map was also the up in the sky.
This painted my parent’s use of the idiom “going up north” with a rather bloodied brush.
We’re going to the afterlife now, sweetie. Get in the van.
Don’t forget your towel.
If your parents offered you a seat in a coffin,
The way they make a space in their bed when things go bump in the night,
Would you climb in?
I found Heaven to be vast and wet,
But the storms there blew in much more life than death, and eventually it sank in:
I was not a soul in a minivan on my way to meet Him with the capital H;
I was a four year old in a minivan on my way to grandma’s.
I am grown now, but North is still a big place.
In my ribcage, I store extra campfire supplies for those unexpected trips up the cold wet escape routes North.
My memory has tinted the place with a sickly stench of death, but I always hesitate
For a moment before climbing back into the car for the trip back.
At night in the city, after these southward home trips, when I lay down and begin my hostage negotiations with sleeplessness,
There’s a compass,
Its needle engraved with an imperative:
Spinning spinning behind my lids.
The mattress rocks with the phantom waves of colder waters, and my hairs stand high
As firs on hillsides,
Up toward my personal gravity’s cold pointy end.
My vast wet mistaken heaven.