Saturday, February 6, 2016

A Poem by John W. Sexton

The Complete Box of Heaven

The Complete Box of Heaven arrived in the post.
On every single side of the parcel were the words:


The parcel was slightly crushed on one side.
On the removal of the brown parcel-paper I found
a single box that could be opened on any side.
On each side was a large number, the same
on ever single side:


"It's got six written all over it," I told my mother.
"No," she said.  "That's the number nine.  You're
looking at it upside down.  Nine is a sacred number."

Inside the box were nine other boxes.
"See," said my mother.  "I told you it was the number
nine.  Nine is the number that Heaven adds up to."

Once outside of their box, the nine boxes
appeared much bigger than the box they'd arrived in.
Along with the boxes was a sheet of instructions.
The instructions explained that the individual boxes
each contained a different aspect of Heaven.

Box one contained the Void.  Box two contained the Word.
Box three contained the Waters.  Box four contained the Angels.
Box five contained the Firmament.  Box six contained the Dome.
Box seven contained the Days.  Box eight contained the Nights.
Box nine contained the Mystery.

The instructions were very specific.  Do not open box one
before box three.  Do not open box six before box five.
Do not open box four before box six.  Do not open box eight
before box seven.  Do not open box seven before box six.
Do not open box six before box four.  Do not open box four
before box three.  Do not open box three before box seven.
Do not open box seven before box one.  Do not open box one
before box eight.  And under no circumstances whatsoever
open box nine until all the other boxes are opened.

"What box should I open first," I asked my mother.
"Any box really," she said, "just as long as it isn't the box
that you shouldn't open before the box
you shouldn't open it before."

"Mother, that's not helping," I said.
"Just listen," she said.

"I can't hear anything," I said.
"That's exactly what you're listening for," she said.

We sat there in silence, all of Heaven before us.
But we were no closer to it then
than we were before it had arrived in the post.

John W. Sexton lives in the Republic of Ireland and is the author of five poetry collections, the most recent being The Offspring of the Moon (Salmon Poetry, 2013).  He also created and wrote The Ivory Tower for RTE radio, which ran to over one hundred half-hour episodes from 1999 to 2002.  Two novels based on the characters from this series have been published by the O'Brien Press:  The Johnny Coffin Diaries and Johnny Coffin School-Dazed, which have been translated into both Italian and Serbian.  He is a past nominee for The Hennessy Literary Award and his poem "The Green Owl" won the Listowel Poetry Prize 2007.  Also in 2007 he was awarded a Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship in Poetry.

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