Man Dreaming of Angels
Edison Jennings

Show me an angel and I will paint one.

It’s hot outside and the bedroom,
not much cooler where flyspecked curtains
hang limp and stain the  humid air
fevered yellow, and a white-haired man
lies on an iron bed, sheets tossed off
in classical disarray.  The man, I should add,
is naked. Private shamelessness
or return to innocence? Certainly,
he’s old enough to have carried shame
in a secret pocket for decades,
or in the false heel of a shoe, or sewn
beneath the skin, a lump of dense
unstable metal bought in some black market,
the zing of particulate poison titillating,
like a lover’s sly touch below the table
of a crowded restaurant, but also old enough
to have aged beyond shame’s half-life,
his flesh unleavened, like lead.
But note the way his eyelids flutter.
Should we conclude, only REM?
Watch a moment more and listen.
Be very still. (We’ll slip out soon,
he’ll never know.)  A soft backwash
of wings mixes smell of sweat
with sallow light, and warm sweet moan
hovers near at hand.  Insects? birds?
Feathered things, creatures of light and air
that shimmer on the pale of sense
and look like us, but more so.

Return to Spring 2011 Table of Contents