If you must be up and out of bed and doing something, at least do
what the November day does:
be the light in those places that flow—how it calms
the water at dawn and the smoke drifting away from its stack—
yes, be the light letting go. Do the cloudless noon thing,
then do the gathering clouds of late afternoon.
Do the business of the chilly temperature. Do the road
closing sign: be the road closed to traffic. So much
sweet silence. The three black crows on the lamppost, their darkness
ablaze with light: they are so you.
It happens all the time in heaven that a lover drives to the airport to pick up his or her beloved. He is nervous, but so what: this is heaven. It is dark. The car stops. The owner gets out and sees the dark shape of the beloved standing by the curb. Weirdly cheerful muzak and a small moon above. Yes, it happens all the time like this: they embrace. In heaven, separation is followed by driving home together through deserted night streets. The lying in bed together in heaven, when day is done, is just the thing.
Stumble and rise is the rhythm of paradise, the echo of footsteps at midnight, moonless or moonlit, it doesn't matter.
Paradise requires an old cat sitting by the drain next to the door of the church, her small tongue at the ready.
Paradise is the stones of a piazza that have been crumbling forever into dusty rubble.
And it may be the cat shrinking back into a corner when at midnight two teenagers arrive on a motor bike, the huge cough of the bike's exhaust, their excited laughter, the girl with her arms around the waist of the boy
Paradise is the boy, ready for anything, his helmet resting on its straps in the cradle of his arm, the motor idling, the cat completely still watching the girl from its hiding place as the girl watches the boy.
Paradise: midnight, her arms around his waist, moonless or moonlit.
It’s graveland time for the soldier
who used to make wine for us.
He’s someplace now where dawn
never cuts the long night short.
He doesn’t need to shake his hair loose now,
doesn’t need to play at teasing her,
that mother of his who mourned him
even while he was alive, still more now
that he won’t ever come home late again,
calling out to her casually, the way he does.
Jim Moore's most recent book is UNDERGROUND: New and Selected Poems (Graywolf Press, 2014) He has other new poems forthcoming in The Kenyon Review. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife the photographer JoAnn Verburg.