Poetry Month: Angels (Pollitt)


They thought the job would be more musical:
Rainbows and trumpets. They’d burst
through clouds of marble streaked with flame

and offer blinding demonstrations
of the ontological proof of God.
People would look up and say, “Ineffable!”

Instead, they swooped through the mall
calling Ashley? Pammy?
fished Mrs. Baines’ wedding ring from the drain again,

and suspended the laws of physics on the freeway,
while simultaneously fielding the collective pleas
of Sister Perpetua’s seventh grade:

Bauxite, they hiss. Cortex. Tegucigalpa.
Why don’t they just study? one angel would gripe to another,
She told them Latin America would be on the test.

Gradually, they stopped showing up.
They moved into studio apartments
and took day jobs working with plants and animals.

You can spot a pair of them sometimes
in the back of a Greek diner,
giggling and whispering over fruit plates:

No, Timmy, really:
The principal export of Bolivia is lightning.

Or maybe they saunter downtown

at the end of the day, one jingling your keys, the other
tossing your lottery tickets into the gutter.
Later they’ll find their way to the dark little bar

hidden away below decks,
order cocktails named after movie stars
and try out the bed in your stateroom

on a line that left exactly on time, after all.

—Katha Pollitt, from Ploughshares, in The Best American Poetry 2011


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