Heaven's Well

Working men wear orange shirts

above ground to avoid death

while late-late drivers burn past signs,

that read, “SLOW DOWN,

my dad works here.”

 

But my dad was a dim, orange glow

at the bottom of a manhole.

No one saw him clipped

by death, a sort of driver, too,

who doesn’t read and doesn’t slow down.

 

No, when hit, my dad’s diabetic heart

gave like a contracting guardrail,

beating frantic, at first,

against its walls, then stopping

before his final breath.

 

Thinking of him now,

I wonder if a spirit is a thing at all.

 

If it is, did my dad’s beat

against the street’s underside

like his short-circuit heart, trying

to find a way out

of his tightening chest?

 

Or did his spirit see the circle

of sunlight above

and dive into heaven’s well

and all was well?

 

I imagine he saw

with his last sight, the circle

of his father’s death curving

into his own—that he imagined

the absurdity of that orange shirt.

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© 2020 Joshua Aaron Crook