What is it in us that wants to take    
in the ruined house of the past,        
the exquisite pain of this world,    
what I can only call a terrible power, the burden,   
the accumulations of our years and griefs,   
the neat, fenced acres of our separateness,    
the temptation to step off the edge     
breaking and falling and changing shape,     
a darkness we have no word for,     
those undefined days we stare into the blue scar,     
a blister we scratch in our sleep,     
something inside us that longs to be named,     
molten and glowing as a blade hammered to silver,     
heat that draws us to our life’s work.        

There are twenty-two levels of heaven.      
Gaze deeply into the excitement,     
the world tilting on its axis right beneath your feet.     
Inside the body, the doors of pleasure,     
secret as the underside of leaves, the flipside of flower petals    
opening, one after another, an arpeggio     
humming notes to a score      
where each of us is imprinted with a map,       
gateways that lead us there: the torn edge         
between this realm and the next         
that forever marks before and after in the heart’s guest book       
stretched out before us, limitless and absolute,       
set down like blank pages on the yellow quilt.    

* Cento using lines, including the title, found in the poetry collections Only As the Day is Long by Dorianne Laux & Bonfire Opera by Danusha Laméris