Heaven is Not a Cheque in the Mail
Jesus said plainly the kingdom of heaven
was right here, on earth, and his own
believers don’t believe him.
Jesus people think heaven happens after
the worst possible affair – death itself,
that almighty ending, the long goodbye.
maybe if they listened to their prophet
they could see heaven like i do, in your
eyes, and your brother’s laugh, the clouds
wearing the countenance of wild cats
my sister’s footprints just ahead of my
two feet in the orange mud along that
rockstream in Zion,
our father is a load of new sand for
childrens castles, at the playground
down the street from the reddest
maple leaf in
heaven is all around us
has been this whole time, it exists
in front of closed eyes. it is bound to
the earth the stars that ocean and sky
what a shame to be waiting, like for
the mail your whole life, what with the
ever-increasing price of postage, and
a long-dead mailman.
RECIPES THAT HELP US
Suppose you’d never cooked for yourself
or others, you just microwaved your meals
And then suddenly, you had an epiphany
and opened a book or someone
taught you some things
And there you are making
all manners of good stuff
That’s like being lifted
a new, better plateau
all of a sudden
And suppose by some grace of God
like a reprieve, you found yourself delivered
to a park with your partner or family member
or friend and out of their pocket
comes a fruit in sections
And the wind, be it
gentle or something to
be endured–it’s a delight
because you’re finding your
again outside and
remembering to breathe
maybe even sudden
gusts like some hand
priming the fire
of your lungs
And what it was like
to be a kid in outdoor rawness
You learn this recipe
and you put it in your book
one of many delights
in your repertoire:
“Recipe for Enjoying Each Other
and Oneself Outdoors with
Fruit in Park and Wind.”
The Travellers are back. Each spring they return to a small corner of Birkrigg, usually about five to six caravans and trailers, a couple of flat-bed lorries. They park just below the farm, near top sea woods, with a view stretching out across the Bay.
Last year I met an elderly woman and a young man, her grandson? They were walking along the beach. I’m sure they were from the camp on the common. She was small and had bright eyes, very alive looking, humorous. With her thick white stockings and men’s carpet slippers she reminded me of my Nana, she wore men’s slippers, too. This lady had a dog with her, a Yorkie, who yapped loudly at Roy. “We call him Napoleon, on account of his size, but he’ll take on anything!” Her grandson smiled, such affection in that smile. He held her elbow, she leaned on him a little.
“Fine looking dog you have. What’s he called?” Roy. “Roy, eh, King Roy!” We smiled and she and her grandson went and sat on a bench. I turned round; saw her pointing with her stick across the Bay to Pen-y-Ghent.
They stay on Birkrigg till someone turfs them off. Used to have a fair up at the Ghyll till the area was tidied up and raised slate flower beds were added to the car park – “to spruce it up” – didn’t realise tho, that it was impossible to get the fair’s dodgems and trucks, vans and trailers on the Ghyll car park. My sister had her fortune told once, at the fair “Don’t tell mam!” while the tune “Dizzy, mah head is spinnin’, like the world will ne-e-ver end,” blared out from the tinny speakers as someone on the dodgem car turned yellow and vomited.
The gypsy children would come to our school for a few weeks, maybe longer, I recall David coming to school barefoot, smiling sheepishly, dark brown hair, curly, tanned face, an ear ring in one ear and a girl – what WAS her name? – beautifully dressed in frills and lace, long hair ringletted, very shy girl. I loved her clothes, and her hair. Nana would ringlet my hair, too, wrap strands of hair in strips of old cotton, torn from worn out dresses. For the boys in the family she’d spit on her forefinger and thumb and twist a few hairs into a coiff/quiff. “There!” she’d say and the boys’d step back, turn their heads to one side, like sulky calves.
“VeeO-let VeeO-let, my mother’s pet, with her hair in a PLET and her pinny all WET! VEE O LET!”
A skipping rope song mam would chant as we danced around the kitchen.
Now the larks are back on Birkrigg, spiralling the air with song and spring as new coils of bracken unfurl their own green tune.
~ Geraldine Green