The Common Good
September/October 2011

Heaven's Back Door

by Richard Schiffman | September/October 2011

Eschewing perfection, they knotted in a flaw,
the human signature and kink that made
the carpet whole -- not less perfect, but more
for the fraying edge, the bleeding dyes
that cloak their treasure in disguise,
an act of indirection modeled from on high:
as when the Deity said Be ...
and out crawled -- the twisted,
the crippled, the deformed.

Surely He was speaking metaphorically,
this fallen world a figure for some brighter,
truer Word; this knotted, knotty life
designed as time's poor foil
and fool, a school whose graduates
recoil beyond the mortal coil.
Or is the coil itself the thing
the Weaver meant
when He said Be ...?

The loops and tangles of our fate
no metaphors for straight, but how all lives
must spin and be unspun in arabesque,
curving first away, then back again
toward whence they came.
Error being the game perfection plays --
which, by seeming less, becomes the more.
Arriving at heaven's back door
by our flawless sense of indirection.

Richard Schiffman is a poet and writer who splits his time between New York City and New Mexico.

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