Two hundred thousand,
one hundred and ninety-seven deaths
in this country from this illness this year,
and I am thinking of heaven
not as a house with many rooms,
(or mansions, depending on the bible-reader’s age),
or a city with streets lined
in trees for the healing of nations,
or a banquet table for the poor,
who never had enough
and saw at a distance the greed
of those who would not share …
but as an evacuation shelter.
How tenderly each is received.
“Here,” says an angel
the one who kisses a holy breath
into those who have not been able
“rest now, be calm, know you’re loved.”
And in a strange reverse
of all the shelters on earth,
caring for those who flee fire, hurricane, flood,
these new arrivals
desperately want to be assured,
that they will not see anyone they know.