My Time With the Angels
I climbed the beanstalk, up and up, to the realm
Of pendulous curtains. The angels hid, emerged
With grape jelly hands, long black hair, greening
Toenails. One angel relieved itself, glaring at me
Erstwhile. The angels stooped in the same linen
They’d worn for millennia, traveling over road-
Tongues that could retract at any moment, gather
The angels into balls; contraptions created, of course,
By the angels, who schemed with their abaci. When
Wanting love, the angels prodded each other with bristly
Sticks. They had one field with a children’s kitchen,
Little plastic melons and bananas, plastic toast
With butter. Regularly an angel forayed, sat down
In a tiny chair and tried to halve a melon or spread
Butter as the other angels laughed, hooting, pointing,
The kitchen angel turning red under unwashed hair.
Nevertheless every angel in the community visited
The kitchen once a year, or such were my calculations.
The angels had a herd of shrubs, often missing; one
Was suicidal. Though the angels had a criminal odor,
It was unclear if they had no laws or many. Nightly
They poured milk into a dirty glass and squatted
Around to watch me drink. The milk was repulsive—
It came from the shrubs’ teats—but I was afraid of
The angels then, their grunting and burning. For years
After my time with the angels, I felt compelled to do
Things I loathed, like watch movies starring Cate
Blanchett, because the angels, living through me, knew
Cate to be a truer angel than they, and were ashamed.
In my extensive scholarship on angels, I argue
That shame and rebellion are integral to the angels,
But these publications were pressured by tenure,
I don’t believe a word. Once I had drunk the milk,
An angel would always reach in and fish a black fly
From the glass bottom with a single hairy finger,
Either to save the creature for my next humiliation,
Or perhaps as an apology, I could never be sure.
My angry breasts went to the market in a rage.
Nobody is beautiful enough to look on them,
Only goats could take them around the sun.
Have you observed how a shadow is simply
A giant’s hair, swooping to and fro through time?
Sure, you could have a picnic there. There’s a hulse
In the garden, back bare to the weeds and grackles.
I feel agitated, a cornucopia of stars with a snake
Inside. The snake’s been having recurring dreams
Where it turns into a black branch and must grow
Very, very slowly. Like my beard growing long
And swaddling me, the dumpling, deep within.
Day after day I expect things to stay the same,
Have I learned nothing? I reject this land of small
Buckets never filled. My hummingbird companion
Lives here somewhere, which is a kind of comfort.
I must remember that money is not watching me,
Blind in its shifting burrow and never to be seen.
But my consciousness is looking, it has bundled
Itself into a filth pocket. What the drowned, honest
Rat says, I say, too. The black towel hides my horrible
Face. It is much irritable, how we are speaking now.
Last time we went to the well, my soul jumped
In, I watched. Then I pulled up the pail and drank.
My neck ajar, I poured my soul back in.