Peter Cooley

THIRD HEAVEN


Because the spirit, too, knows loneliness
disasters happen in the universe
and someone like myself, smallest of men,
finds grace, a nimbus on the wall at noon.

After the hurricane, I drove back home
from hiding out safely inside a church.
I saw downed oaks squashed across roof on roof
or telephone wires; coming down my street

I saw abandoned dogs joined in a pack
scrounging the garbage cans, I saw my house.
Nothing looked different but some scattered leaves
across the front walk: purple, blue and gold.

I knew I never had seen leaves before.
I picked up one the color of the sky.
I held it while I opened the front door.
But I was blinded. I had second sight.

Inside, no lights, no water but just sun.
Everything just as God imagined it
for me to understand my human need
of the material: nothing, everything

was essential where I was staring now.
Only one thing was clear: someone was in the room,
someone larger than rooms and hurricanes,
someone who shone brighter than any sun.

There was no word fort this except the ones
familiar to us all: deliverance.
What I was standing in I would call light
but it was brighter. I had my third sight.

Five years later, I still have changing sight. 

 

                                                             Published in Callaloo

 

***

 We stayed, living with no electricity or water and no food except what my wife and I found in the Episcopal Church parish hall or obtained from the Salvation Army. We relied on our few neighbors who stayed behind; we relied on ourselves. We relied on God. I began writing about the storm immediately. I did not really want to write about Katrina but  found I had no choice. I came out of this experience valuing everything more: the sanctity of human life, the need to make art, and the urgent need to share it, especially.

 
 

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