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Heaven

by
 If you were twenty-seven 
and had done time for beating 
our ex-wife and had 
no dreams you remembered 
in the morning, you might 
lie on your bed and listen 
to a mad canary sing 
and think it all right to be 
there every Saturday 
ignoring your neighbors, the streets, 
the signs that said join, 
and the need to be helping.
You might build, as he did, a network of golden ladders so that the bird could roam on all levels of the room; you might paint the ceiling blue, the floor green, and shade the place you called the sun so that things came softly to order when the light came on.
He and the bird lived in the fine weather of heaven; they never aged, they never tired or wanted all through that war, but when it was over and the nation had been saved, he knew they'd be hunted.
He knew, as you would too, that he'd be laid off for not being braver and it would do no good to show how he had taken clothespins and cardboard and made each step safe.
It would do no good to have been one of the few that climbed higher and higher even in time of war, for now there would be the poor asking for their share, and hurt men in uniforms, and no one to believe that heaven was really here.

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