Doig, Milky Way, 1990
LOST in the MILKY WAY
Some of us are like trees that grow with a spiral grain
as if prepared for the path of the spirit’s journey
to the world of all souls.
It is not an easy path.
A dog stands at the opening constellation
past the great helping hand.
The dog wants to know,
did you ever harm an animal, hurt any creature,
did you take a life you didn’t eat?
This is the first on your map. There is another
my people made of the great beyond
that lies farther away than this galaxy.
It is a world that can’t be imagined by ordinary means.
After this first one,
the next could be a map of forever.
It could be a cartography
shining only at some times of the year
like a great web of finery
some spider pulled from herself
to help you recall your true following
your first white breath in the cold.
The next door opens and Old Woman
counts your scars. She is interested in how you have been
hurt and not in anything akin to sin.
From between stars are the words we now refuse;
loneliness, longing, whatever suffering
might follow your life into the sky.
Once those are gone, the life you had
against your own will, the hope, even the prayers
take you one more bend around the river of sky.