- Fear of Justifications, and: The First Circle, and: Fear of the Either/Or, and: Fear of Seed Vaults and Immortality, and: Fear of Blamelessness
- Fear of Justifications
The irony of heaven holds that Dick Cheney will be waterboarded by angels until he confesses to his role as a torturer. But angels know he’ll just be feigning his responsibility, that torture ultimately produces only what angels want to hear and not confession at all. Then he’ll know futility. For angels are made of light. They move through almost everything but liquids, craving anywhere to alight, to trade indifference for intransigence. So what they love the most is sound, to have something go through them the same way they slip through history, as the fugacious tailwind to event. The root of their addiction is sweetened in such harmless game as to prey on a wretch like Cheney and all his inadmissible evidence. There is nothing more satisfying than to choke the crystalline bubble from his mouth, allowing it to rise and burst. For the unrepentant scream in paradise provides an illusion of the forbidden. It strafes them raw with the lie that rids the lice of their desire, and it goes, shuddering up through their radiant wings. [End Page 175]
- The First Circle
This is where Dante visits the great philosophers and ignores the whirring machinery that kept my unbaptized baby brother alive for a while before he died, another spark from God’s hammer strike fallen to darkness. My parents are not here to tend to him, for they were made aware of Christ’s infinite mercy and begged forgiveness. Going back to sleep in paradise, my father, up early for work, watches the sky get pink, alone on the bus he took every day to the plant. But I wonder if my mother ascended or plummeted to the realm of bleeding trees. Her one, perhaps, irredeemable sin: grief’s utter selfishness, the slow violence on which she wrecked. [End Page 176]
- Fear of the Either/Or
The neighbors’ new baby is home now from its little miracle, and we go by, obligatory, with our skin-of-lion blanket (so the dead will not disturb her passage) and a rattle (to frighten in case they do). Its enormous stretch and yawn, mammalian, helpless. The unformed throat cords lead to the primacy of voice and vibrate like rosin across the bow. This sound shakes against my wife’s endometrial canopy that collects our effervescence, as if trumpeters at the walls of Jericho, toppling them to ruin.
We’ve tried and failed for years. So wanting a baby now seems almost perverse. As if we have to do it. That it might fill that dark seam in the sky that ripped opened. That we must reorganize the air into an actual future, rather than this endlessness. Or go until we fall silent and no one remembers how we inhabited each other, or wore these skins—velutinous, honey-drenched—as lions. How we fit together just so. How we shook the rattle of our bones against the dead. [End Page 177]
- Fear of Seed Vaults and Immortality
Even here, earthbound, nestled within the Norwegian subterranean seed vault, forevermore is encrusted in permafrost. Our pods escape to your cold arms, inhabitation. Take twins of all and core genetic variations— only the best, the ones that can outlive drought, flood, pestilence, poor nutrients, too much cold, heat, too little light. There are 20 forms of tomato and 26 of wheat. Most can survive beyond the power plant, but will suck the batteries dry before the lights cut and the dormancy cracks, relenting to the deeper sleep of lost worlds. For now, this promise stays spring-loaded, sealed, each package neglected inside its silver drawer, labeled in DNA code, symbol, Latin and English obsolescence. This one, named rare municipal orchid is not foodstuff. Is not for crop or soil rotation or for cleaning the...