Visiting Heaven

When I arrive in Virginia, I sing
to the graves of my ancestors
resting in the grasses of Northside Park.
Over hedges, children race in gunnysacks
and sail in swings. The monkeys are gone,
but their castle remains. Its stone moat
protects us from the poo monkey ghosts fling,
screeching their protests sideways through time.

Later, when I stand on 8th Avenue
facing Grandma’s house,
my spirit jumps from my flesh
and spreads itself into the creaks and corners
of that old house whose arms
embrace the early days of me.
Steam pours heat into Virginia’s houses,
filling up wood pores in floors and walls
with its deep wet scent, wafting wisps of
ancient we.

Spirit filled with steam,
I turn toward Wake ‘em Up Bay.

Forsaken through years of dis-connect,
my aging body weeps as it enters the flow
of Lake Vermilion, rejoicing its reunion
with the waters of its womb. A desire to
float into eternity toys with my senses.

I picture heaven as a sauna in the sky
on the shores of an ethereal Vermilion
shimmering early days of me.

In heaven, Grandpa tosses cups
of the lake, dipped from a barrel,
and we watch water
dance its sizzle
on the pearly stove’s rocks.

Everybody’s here.

Len laughs and his eyes mimic the glimmer
in Grandpa’s eyes, two peas in a pod,
hyucking it up in the sauna.

Dave Arnott asks if we’re sure it isn’t hell;
it’s so damn hot in here.

Grandpa chuckles and throws
more water on the rocks.

The waters of Vermillion lap my back
and pull me back to the present moment,
rocking on the surface of my youth,
imagining heaven as a sauna
where everyone I love
jokes while Grandpa throws water on the rocks.

It holds my childhood’s blood,
this water,
this receptacle of story and time.

I pull myself out onto the ladder of the boat
and up into the rest of my life.

Vermilion drips down my skin ‘til it dries.

 

Brenda Warren 2012

~~~~~~~~~~~
Process Notes:
I wrote this piece for a Trifecta challenge. We were prompted to write 333-3333 words on any theme, in any style. Not counting its title, this piece is precisely 333 words long.

A week from today, I will be on a houseboat on Lake Vermilion with my husband, Len. We will have the boat for four nights. It’s been over 30 years since I’ve been swimming in Lake Vermilion. We’ll visit Virginia before we head to the lake. I have not been there for 17 years. This poem is my imagining of my upcoming trip with my husband. Lucky we!

We are going to a folk music festival close to the Mississippi River following our week on the water. Life is good. Yup.

Notes on heaven: David Arnott is a good friend who has passed already. Len is still living, but I can’t imagine that it would really be heaven if he were not there with me.

25 thoughts on “Visiting Heaven

  1. Lovely poem Brenda. You have painted some very happy memories all though this in vivid pictures. I would love to see the photographs of your holiday.
    This certainly sounds like a little bit of Heaven with your friends and family too.

  2. A gorgeous read, Brenda. That second stanza is beautiful in its imagery. I hope you have a wonderful vacation! It sounds glorious to be able to stay on a houseboat. Be safe, my friend.

    Pamela

  3. Eloquent and emotionally charged opening line, Brenda: “When I arrive in Virginia, I sing to the graves of my ancestors resting in the grasses of Northside Park.” Hope you enjoy your time in Minnesota. Email me if you go through St. Paul on your way home. It would be lovely to meet you!

  4. I was wondering how this longer challenge would be for our poets. I should have known that all those words would flow from your fingers. I especially loved this bit:
    Steam pours heat into Virginia’s houses,
    filling up wood pores in floors and walls
    with its deep wet scent, wafting wisps of
    ancient we.
    I can smell that scent and feel connected to everything past by it. Lovely work.
    Thanks for bringing your best to this special challenge. We hope to get to read more of your words in the upcoming weekly prompts.

    • Thank you for your kind words, and for offering the Trifecta challenges. I love your site. Smell is so infused in my memories of childhood….the part you selected is one of my favorites, as well. I have a walnut buffet that was in that house. One drawer holds my grandmother’s table linens….and oh my, it still holds the smell. I rarely open it, because I’m afraid it will escape. ;)

  5. Sounds like Dave was an important person in your life, sorry you lost him, Bren. Love your idea of heaven on earth… the water tossed on the rocks, Dave wondering if it’s hell! And Virginia, Minnesota… when I tell folks we came here from outside Buffalo, I didn’t know where’s also a Buffalo, MN, so I’ve learned to say “Western New York State”! Safe, happy travels to what sounds like heaven to me! Peace, Amy
    http://sharplittlepencil.com/2012/07/25/twofer-gathering-and-a-limerick/

  6. I only hope that when you are there, and inspiration takes its hold on you, that you will return and share that experience.
    What am I saying…I have no doubt it will!, and that your work will take us there, as this did. Thank you for these vivid and personal recollections.

  7. I like the scene you’ve painted here, and the reunion with spirits of bodies long gone. I also liked the humor in this line, “Dave Arnott asks if we’re sure it isn’t hell; it’s so damn hot in here”. Made me smile :)

share your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s