Heaven and Hell

Heaven + Hell
are estranged sisters
eyeing each other
across uncrossable distances.

Each gathers her allies
   mutters darkly about the other.
   Envy might glint, sometimes, in their eyes.

Heaven plants her roots, sends up fronds
   sweet green shoots
   and harvests ripe.

Hell skims lightly over the world
   undoes bindings.

Heaven seals
    with honey and wax.

Hell dissolves,
    molecules sigh into their component parts.

Heaven keeps a tidy yard,
   bakes fresh bread,

Hell, she walks out the gate,
   leaves salty footprints (no backward glance)
   in her wake.
   She forgets.

(From a classroom prompt based on X. J. Kennedy's fantastic poem, "Nothing in Heaven Functions as it Ought." I had the kids brainstorm connotations and denotations of heaven and hell, and compare them to the Hawaiian concept of the afterworld, Keaopo, which is non binary, non-human, and plural. There's one on every island.)


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