13 Ways of Angels
13 Ways of Angels
Poem by Scott Owens
Art by Jeff Smyers
“It had wings,” she said,
her eyes too wide not to be believed.
“It had wings and had Daddy
by the throat.” Her mouth wouldn’t stop.
“I was afraid to touch him, the way
I’m always afraid to touch him,
the way he always touches me.”
The first thing he saw
as he ran towards where
the shots came from
was the angelic smile
of the two-year old
reaching up to him
from where she stood
over the sprinkler, diaper
sagging, wrinkled body
glistening with water.
Warm sand on my back,
sound of surf sorting the day,
lapping water from your ear and chin,
sucking the salt from your shoulder,
you rise above me,
the moon’s halo behind your head.
Walking by the hospital I see,
or imagine I see, faces drawn
in every window, eyes uplifted
or closed, mouths shut on empty shells
of words, shadows moving
like uncertain hands on worn out clocks.
The angel on my shoulder
is mute as stone and nowhere
near as heavy. In fact, I’d think,
she might have drifted away
if not for the constant smell of cinnamon.
I see them everywhere,
Tooker’s paranoiac of the stairway,
haloed head, frightened eyes,
angel afraid of ascent.
Cemetery angels with stone wings
hover above the dead,
unable to lift even themselves
from the ground they belong to.
When the faces fade
the diabolical chair stands empty,
the sky sits on broad shoulders of trees.
Abandoned by angels
we wait our turn out of the box.
Though he looks straight at me
I cannot see the angel’s eyes.
Moth or angel, muse of my sleep,
humming against the window,
wings beating out dreams until dawn.
The angel in the room
is fat and lazy and going nowhere,
insuring only the remote’s
batteries live forever.
It is always so.
The wind blows against a window
and a light too bright to bear
goes out. All that follows
is a tragedy of crushed petals.