for Jill Young

Angels file their nails, floss their teeth,
play charades and trivial pursuit,
always taking pains to keep
their fingers busy
knowing full well to be idle—
even for angels—begs trouble.
Angels in raiment
of virginal lingerie
repose on chaise lounges
while watching the world
like mid-season TV—
re-runs of arguments, car chases,
armies amassing at borders.
Angels are helpless to act
until someone asks.
Occasionally one is requested
to stop a train in its tracks,
pull a child from a river,
or lie down with a hiker
lost days in the snow—
the angel equivalent
of a triple A call.
It’s the rare angel who’s asked
to stop a war.
Nevertheless, the angel returns
insufferable with accomplishment,
and proclaims over bingo,
“You should have been there, seen
the way I put my shoulder to the train.”
Angels understand
the nick of time.
Though cautioned against it
a thousand thousand times—
angels are filled to bursting
of their diaphanous beings
with pride.
Overweening, overarching
everlasting pride.

This poem is from Donna Hilbert’s collection of poetry, Traveler in Paradise: New and Selected Poems (PEARL Editions, 2004). Her latest book is The Congress of Luminous Bodies (Aortic Books, 2013). The Green Season (World Parade Books) is now available in a new, expanded second edition. Other books include Traveler in Paradise: New and Transforming Matter (PEARL, 2000) and Feathers and DustDeep Red, and Mansions, all from Event Horizon Press. Hilbert’s work is widely anthologized, most recently in The Widow’s Handbook (Kent State University Press, 2014).
*Photo courtesy of lovlibovli.
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