The very same river

Ask for a mansion framed by a yard spilled down to the river Jordan.
Too many massive rooms, halls, a huge restaurant kitchen, please.
In the summer though, the house gets fleas. Gnats in gray clouds
in the kitchen, flies itching to tackle and impregnate crumbs
dropped to the floor, rolled beneath the cabinet door,
spiders, friends stabbed at by a toe, moths orbiting the lights,
from windows open, out of necessity, at night.

Ask for rushing tan water to flow-roar, opened and closed,
consuming unseen boulders, still stagnate in still places,
the breeding grounds of mosquitoes.

Take a walk around the shore, take in heaven’s long rolling like a river winding,
root gripped path, legs slapped and arms reddened, a splash of red blood,
a heart, in the center. Dig gardens and sweat, plant seeds, weed.
One day pull up a snake writhing in leather-clad hands.
Witness pests roam wide open squash leaves and turn orange blossoms into gloop.
Holes burned through potatoes where slices were put in holes, grown,
and eaten by whomsoever gets to heaven with a shovel first.

Still, ask for a mansion. And remember,
do not take paradise for granted. Because it isn’t.

For those who do not plan to work
for their hereafter, the very same structure,
by the bank of the very same Jordan,
is a prison.

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