Little Allegory

Peter Cooley

“I’m not the kind of heaven you thought you’d find,”
the sky said, spreading itself across the floorhere, in the kitchen, its gold leaf freaked and split
as it appeared and disappeared and stainedthe morning with its radiance.                                                 “And furthermore,you’re not my idea of a prophet or a sage.
But here we are, plain-speaking in blank verse.Look, I’m all the transcendence you will find today
if you’ll just step into my shifting path—light, shadow, light—chiaroscuro, painters call it.”
And this is when the dust motes spin, haloeseach one, around an angel on the air,
and this is how my story suspends, therewhere I am leaping, dancing, rising as I speak,
no difference between my step and the supernal,every note a grace note, that deep, high music.

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Peter Cooley’s ten poetry collections include, most recently, World without Finishing (Carnegie Mellon). His poems have recently appeared in Denver Quarterly, The Christian Century, Commonweal, and Colorado Quarterly. He teaches at Tulane and is poet laureate of Louisiana.

Image

Number 97 / Summer 2018

Seattle, Washington

Center for Religious Humanism
Seattle Pacific University

Publisher & Editor: Gregory Wolfe
Managing Editor: Mary Kenagy Mitchell
Executive Editor: Suzanne M. Wolfe
Associate Editors: Roger Feldman, Jennifer Maier

Image was founded in 1989 to demonstrate the continued vitality and diversity of contemporary art and literature that engage with the religious traditions of Western culture. Now one of the leading literary journals published in English, it is read all over the world—and forms the nexus of a warm and active community.

We believe that the great art that has emerged from these faith traditions is dramatic, not didactic—incarnational, not abstract. And so our focus has been on works of imagination that embody a spiritual struggle, like Jacob wrestling with the angel. In our pages the larger questions of existence intersect with what the poet Albert Goldbarth calls the “greasy doorknobs and salty tearducts” of our everyday lives.

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