Every heaven, every utopia,
Every Shangri-La and Peach Blossom Spring,
Lubberland and Big Rock Candy Mountain,
Every paradise is a cargo cult,
Magic stitched out of happy accidents.
My heart breaks for how incomplete they are,
How colorful, spare, and unmagical,
How flimsy, unconvincing, and unreal.
There are white heavens, serene and austere.
There are green, greedy gardens of Cockaigne,
Heavens of abundance and sweets to eat.
There are heavens of being together
With those gone before us, with divine love.
There are heavens patched of all of these dreams.
We scrape together things we remember
Of life that seemed better than most of life,
And we heap up little piles of blessings,
And we try to step into them the way
We so easily inhabit fictions
Rich with Earth’s familiar imperfections,
But even if we are faithful, even
If we are Milton or Dante, we fail.
We yearn for a bliss we can’t imagine,
Bliss we try imagining anyway,
Only to find—imagined perfect bliss
Is a dull and sorry place to visit.
If someone, enchantress or magician,
Could conjure a pure world as delightful
And wondrous as one threatened with conflict,
As vivid and achingly glorious
As golden clouds above a battlefield,
We might as well perish from gratitude.