In her own words...

"Heaven and Earth"


pronounced in a phone booth long-distance from a friend
who doesn't see the havoc she invites by bringing in

without visa and safe-conduct (much less a real identity)
a somewhere or is it something to take up room though

there is none available — the hotel booked solid and
the beach restricted, naturally — yet she is certain Heaven's there

to make Earth attractive and well worth the money
forked over to her travel agent for the ten-day package;

all of it redounding on the innocent developers' having
made their dearly paid-for property too, well, heavenly,

never dreaming it would be confronted by an alien invasion
of the most insidious kind that only lawyers called upon

to argue deeds of ownership and especially to question
the need of Heaven to render Earth agreeable can deal with.

Gazing from the beach, my friend might see fishing tubs
out early in the glint and heave of water, clearly
neither on Earth or in Heaven but just casting nets

that should be full by noon or else a lot of people
in the shacks up on the hill will face a nothing meal.
Some days the fish don't bite or swarm into the nets,

just swim and flash and dive, and on those days
the fishermen are not so likely to sing and clown
around: they pull the boats in silence up on sand,

the suck of it holding feet to itself, Earth holding
them close, close to the mud hill, mud house, the big
banana leaf laden tonight with frijoles, fish or no fish,

the stars safely sewn into their velvet profundities
and somebody with his guitar next door making earth Earth
sounds and love sounds that know no other Heaven.


About this work

“Heaven and Earth” was first published in The Gettysburg Review, Vol. 15, no. 3 (Autumn 2002), pp. 416-417.  It is also included in Dorothea Tanning's book, A Table of Content: Poems, New York: Graywolf Press, 2004, pp. 23-24, and may not be reprinted without the publisher's permission.