POETRY:  Death and Paradise *

Jennifer Doane

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POETRY:  Death and Paradise *

by Jennifer Doane

Death has come to me
in the guise of a love
that is higher than my whole life.
I would have guarded
against him,
but death is a horseman
that no one sees,
and now it is too late
to turn away
from him,
for everywhere I look
I see death,
that dreadful messenger from Paradise.

Death stands here
with half his being
already in Paradise,
and as he reaches toward me
with his horrible hand
he offers Paradise.

As I take Paradise
from him
I give away all
that is other than Paradise.
I can never again see
the brokenness and incompleteness of my life
as anything other
than it is.
The illusory nature of the world
does not protect me.

Being undefended
on all sides
I take
the joy of Paradise
not for its own sake
but for the sake of
a love
that is beyond Paradise.

Originally published in the print edition of The American Muslim, Spring, 1994