Sjohnna McCray is the author of the poetry collection Rapture, which won the 2015 Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets. His poems have appeared in numerous journals including the Chicago Quarterly Review, Tin House Online, and the Tahoma Literary Review. He lives in Athens, Georgia and teaches at Georgia Gwinnett College.
Let Heaven Be
So, what now? A parachute of darkness
unfurling and underneath—the moon, the stars
and satellites laid bare, a shift in
understanding between here/there. Maybe,
dying is a crisp bed sheet, cold and straightened.
On your back, the shivery emptiness.
Oblivion. However, that pinprick
of a brain asserts itself, holds on
to the dwindling light and says: Please,
let heaven be a memory. The one
on the beach where we stand together
like plastic grooms but closer. My hand
pulls you tight. Your pale arms glisten
but your face is flush. I’ve never seen this look.
Happiness staying put. Clouds roll in
over the ocean which is fading
from cyan to froth to a hint of turquoise.
A toddler in bright red shorts is shrieking
behind us at the wetness and persistence
of the tide—here it comes, there it goes! Her joy
is the only sound we hear and all
we need to know.