Stairway To Heaven Poem by Alison Hawthorne Deming

Stairway To Heaven

The queen grows fat beneath my house
while drones infest the walls
reconnaissance to feed her glut,
wood ripped from studs and joists.
I'll pay to drill the slab and ruin
her pestilential nest. How to find
the song in this day's summons?
I've been accused of darkness
by my inner light. My brother sits
in the chemo chair another long day
of toxic infusion, the house of his body—
bones, brain and balls gone skeltering.
I sit in my parked car listening
to Robert Plant recall how the English
envied the Americans for getting
the blues, getting all of it, into song.
I remember the dream where
brother and sister, adult and equal,
lean and white as lilies, as bare,
dove into a mountain lake, black water,
high elevation, fir trees growing
in flood water that had joined
two lakes into one. Do you ever dream
of animals, I ask him, hospice bed
looking out on a plywood squirrel
perched on cement block wall.
Frequently. A lilt of surprising joy. What kind?
Mostly the jungle animals. Then: I'm going
to do my exercises now. What exercises?
I like pacing, he said, immobilized
upon his death nest of nine pillows.
Then he closed his eyes to become the inward one
whose only work was to wear a pathway
back and forth within his enclosure.

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