There’s a movie about a woman who can’t love God.
It’s a terrible movie. Low budget. Poorly acted.
It’s clumsy and obvious, but I used to watch it over and over
because it had something I needed. A woman, who,
visited by God, cannot love him. Her husband is dead,
her daughter too, both murdered, not senselessly,
but by a man they had tried to help, a man who took
revenge for something that was his own fault. Life,
in the movie, is a test. Life is a test, that in her suffering,
she has passed, except that in having suffered, she cannot
love God, and is refused, by her own honesty, from
the Kingdom of heaven. What the movie says is that life
is not a test. What the movie says is that even if life
is a designed to be a test, that we cannot help but love it
so much that it is everything, and we are right
to love our lives in such a way that we could even refuse heaven,
if it meant giving up on what we have here. It has been
years since I watched that movie, and I think perhaps
it’s because now, at the end of every day, I get to lie down
next to you, and that as long as your arm holds me firm
as I enter the country of sleep, I will never have to choose
between you and heaven.
Jason Schneiderman is the author of Primary Source, winner of the Benjamin Saltman Award from Red Hen Press; Striking Surface, winner of the Richard Snyder Prize from Ashland Poetry Press; and Sublimation Point, A Stahlecker Selection from Four Way Books. His poetry and essays have appeared in American Poetry Review, The Best American Poetry, Poetry London, Grand Street, The Penguin Book of the Sonnet, Story Quarterly, and Tin House, among others. Jason has received fellowships from Yaddo, The Fine Arts Work Center, and The Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. He was the recipient of the Emily Dickinson Award from the Poetry Society of America in 2004 and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award in 2011. He is Poetry Editor of the Bellevue Literary Review, and Associate Editor at Painted Bride Quarterly. Jason Schneiderman is an Associate Professor at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, part of the City University of New York.
This poem is not previously published.