[Image: The caption of this photo as it appears on Flickr, in English translation, is “I always knew they would come sometime! Now they are here!” The photograph is by Heribert Pohl. (Used under a Creative Commons license.) For more about these “Flossis,” sculpted by the artist known as Rosalie, see this page at Inthralld.com. Click the photo to enlarge it (it’s big: almost 6MB).]
From whiskey river:
Questions About Angels
Of all the questions you might want to ask
about angels, the only one you ever hear
is how many can dance on the head of a pin.
No curiosity about how they pass the eternal time
besides circling the Throne chanting in Latin
or delivering a crust of bread to a hermit on earth
or guiding a boy and girl across a rickety wooden bridge.
Do they fly through God’s body and come out singing?
Do they swing like children from the hinges
of the spirit world saying their names backwards and forwards?
Do they sit alone in little gardens changing colors?
What about their sleeping habits, the fabric of their robes,
their diet of unfiltered divine light?
What goes on inside their luminous heads? Is there a wall
these tall presences can look over and see hell?
If an angel fell off a cloud, would he leave a hole
in a river and would the hole float along endlessly
filled with the silent letters of every angelic word?
If an angel delivered the mail, would he arrive
in a blinding rush of wings or would he just assume
the appearance of the regular mailman and
whistle up the driveway reading the postcards?
No, the medieval theologians control the court.
The only question you ever hear is about
the little dance floor on the head of a pin
where halos are meant to converge and drift invisibly.
It is designed to make us think in millions,
billions, to make us run out of numbers and collapse
into infinity, but perhaps the answer is simply one:
one female angel dancing alone in her stocking feet,
a small jazz combo working in the background.
She sways like a branch in the wind, her beautiful
eyes closed, and the tall thin bassist leans over
to glance at his watch because she has been dancing
forever, and now it is very late, even for musicians.
(Billy Collins [source])
It was one of those days when you can see the ghosts of all the other lovely days. You drink a bit and watch the ghosts of all the lovely days that have ever been from behind a glass.
(Jean Rhys [source])
I don’t like when precious things slip through people’s fingers — especially things that seem defenseless or undercelebrated, but also unheralded people who may have said sensible things at a certain time in history, but who were completely drowned out by other people. Or minor poets whose lives were instructive. Sometimes I’m astounded by the absence of sentimentality in other people. How can you not become attached to the poignant scraps that flow through life?
(Nicholson Baker [source])
Not from whiskey river:
Wasn’t there a spell for making yourself happy? Somebody must have invented one. How could he have missed it? Why didn’t they teach it? Was it in the library, a flying book fluttering just out of reach, beating its wings against some high window?
(Lev Grossman [source])
In a tavern on the Southside of Chicago
a man sits with his wife. From their corner booth
each stares at strangers just beyond the other’s shoulder,
nodding to the songs of their youth. Tonight they will not fight.
Thirty years of marriage sits between them
like a bomb. The woman shifts
then rubs her right wrist as the man recalls the day
when they sat on the porch of her parents’ home.
Even then he could feel the absence of something
desired or planned. There was the smell
of a freshly tarred driveway, the slow heat,
him offering his future to folks he did not know.
And there was the blooming magnolia tree in the distance—
its oversized petals like those on the woman’s dress,
making her belly even larger, her hands
disappearing into the folds.
When the last neighbor or friend leaves their booth
he stares at her hands, which are now closer to his,
remembers that there had always been some joy. Leaning
closer, he believes he can see their daughter in her eyes.
(Lita Hooper [source])
This is what people report, when they wake up: they say, oh my God, it could have been this way all along. They say, how could I have missed it? How could I miss something so obvious, so right-in-my-face? How could I have missed, all my life, what’s as ever-present and abundant as air, as light, as wind? And how come other people don’t feel it, sense it, taste it? How can anybody not realize what they are slathered in? What all of us are slathered in?
(Jan Frazier [source])