Poem: Angels in Stone

Angels In Stone

You look in early in the morning. She is still sleeping,
curled under the quilt, her dark hair spilling out.
You let her sleep and warm up the truck.
It is one lonely degree. Still and sunny.

You load up the week’s garbage,
pristine white bags that crinkle in the cold.
Cardboard boxes. A few odd things that defy category
and drive to your favorite diner.

Two days later and there is still snow on the road
in front of your house. You drive slowly,
savoring the effects of a true winter,
feet of snow in the fields, and on the road,
walls of the stuff.

Here and there a home not yet dug out.
Smoke pouring from their chimney.
Lights in their window, break the early light.

That light is strange, a the texture of fog,
softening the ridgelines and wide expanses
of fields, the lines of corn lost.

You have left your camera
and at first you are angry at yourself.
There is too much beauty to keep to yourself.
The fields shine in the sun, glisten in the strange light.
somehow larger, longer, and perfect.
Not a mark, a wrinkle, a footstep mars the surface,
even now, two days later. Driving slowly,
you come to see the lack of camera
as a blessing. You are allowed to simply
be.

Your favorite diner is closed. Four feet of plowed
snow blocks the entry way. It is dark inside
and so you are driving again, past the perfect fields,
remembering the past few days, the emptiness,
the difficulty writing.

You remember the old poet in his hotel room,
sharing a breakfast of bourbon and bagles,
you, whiny and young, moaning about the block,
the deadness of your words. What to do, you asked him.
What to do?

“Write. Write anyway. Write badly.
Write after sex. After a two day drunk,
Write when the news breaks your heart,
when you are angry.
Especially when you are angry.
Write what you see. The change. The loss.
These things will pass and all that will remain
are your words to remind anyone
you lived.”

You get to your second choice diner.
They set you in the corner with coffee.
They know you here. You won’t be leaving any time soon.
And you write. Not feeling it, you write,
like a sculptor, you write, chipping away
at your ennui. There is an angel in there,
and you are going to release it.
Right after you dump the garbage.

About this poem

The latest of “The Old Poet” poems, based on my first poet mentor, Robert Hazel. I’ve had trouble writing the past couple of days, and when that happens, I just write what is, and eventually, my brain remembers how to write poems.

The mangling of the angel and releasing is a bad paraphrase of something Michelangelo was supposed to have said when he bought his first block of marble. It is one of my favorite quotes. I mangle it often.

The picture is from a snow a couple of years ago. The porch has collapsed now. But that’s another poem.

Tom

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