This is Heaven by James Von Hendy

This is Heaven

The man we love most in the world
is dying. He sits, fingers curled
around the covers of an open book
to mark his place, and though

he nods asleep, each time he wakes
he reads with wonder what he takes
to be words he’s not read before. Tonight
dim light pools on the floor

about his bare and swollen feet,
taut skin pale as a winding sheet.
He says there’s nothing after death, so this
is heaven’s realm, the breath-

less living room, its curtains drawn
against the night. “We’re here, we’re gone.”
He shrugs, and smiles at us, son and wife.
“This life’s a benison.

“No other heaven can compare.”
It’s true we’d rather not despair.
These long evenings, spanning years, are blessed,
and best, it staves our tears.

by James Von Hendy, first appeared as a winner in the Writer’s Digest Poetic Asides forms challenge.

Editor’s Note: The form of this poem interweaves rhyme, syllables, and subject matter, portraying the end of a treasured life with great dignity.

Poet’s Note: This poem uses a Welsh form called Byr a Thoddaid.


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