Look

A poem for Wednesday

A blurry fist holds up a rose against the night sky.
Will Matsuda

My mother, very Catholic, loves that song: Imagine

there’s no heaven. Can you picture it?—my mother

joining the chorus of her three churchless children to croon,

no heaven, no hell, nothing before or after? Above us,

only the universe and its borderless yawn. Only the trees

who died for my handwriting, history’s pollen, fields

and field hands I can’t stop robbing with money.

Today, I woke up on still-stolen land, then scrolled

through the latest debris of people attempting godliness

in a hundred wrong ways. The room was filled today

with light; filled, you could say, with nothing. No hope,

no glory. No such peach as an ethical peach.

The minute I started wanting paradise, it leapt

from my belief. I’m not good enough to survive

not being good. I’m like you—still drooling

after a perfect world, even as the stars warble

off-key and the oceans rattle with plastics.

Imagine, I can’t stop saying. Imagine, I beg,

when I should have said, Look: Paradise

is both a particle and a wave. You don’t have

to believe in something for it to startle you awake.