THE BEAST AND THE INNOCENT
Of course, dogs and cats go to heaven,
my mother announced from her deathbed.
Welcomed into heaven, my childhood cat
will groom Grandmother’s canary, feathers the same
yellow as the black cat’s eyes, the bird
he ate when I was seven. In paradise
pointers lap at duck ponds while cockatiels
screech and perch on each dog’s white and black
spotted back. Heaven’s way is,
as we have heard, the lion lying down
with the lamb. A place where Christians kindle
the eight candles of Hanukkah, Muslims unfurl
prayer rugs for Hindi and the roped Tibetan prayer
flags flutter good fortune for the Chinese.
The wine and wafer bless a round wooden table, a feast
celebrated with unleavened and leavened,
mango and oyster, babel unlimited. And the spaniel
that killed my brother’s rabbits will lie
on the wide-bladed grass of my youth, all manner
of four and two-legged creatures leaping
over him, some stroking the red and white silk
of his fur for pure pleasure, for the grace.
(Previously Published in Imagining Heaven Anthology)