Analog Angels

I.

Snug at the intersection
in the left turning lane,
through the streaming headlights
of moving evening traffic,
a shape on the corner
across the way.

Face turned,
shoulders curled in,
arms like wings
cradled away,
knees tucked in,
curvature of a spine,
a person, for sure, I’m sure,

but I must be sure
before I scream in horror
or honk or pull
over or call
or do something about it.
I look around.

Nobody in other cars
seems concerned.

We are fish benumbed
by the commonplace
of our individual bowls.

Hey, I go to say,
yo, I whisper,
and I squint,
and I still have not made a move
and I will not do a thing.

When the light changes
and it’s our turn to go,
the shape is revealed
in reflective clarity.

Starbursts off plastic bags,
headlight beam
and traffic light green
illuminate the garbage

in me.

II.

Which are you?
A. Damage others.
B. Damaged by others.
C. Damage themselves.
D. All of the above.
E. Some combination of the above.
F. None of the above.

III.

It’s the F people I’m worried about.
They know not what they do.

IV.

On the way to jiu jitsu,
bottlenecked
before Faulkner Road,
a shadow in my periphery.

We’re under the bridge,
all of us together
through machinery

and the unmitigated force of progress
on the road
on our way
wherever each of us goes.

There off the road
where it’s fenced in
and filth strewn,

a bare-chested black man,
dreads tied up like a flower,
featureless,
nimbly flying,

dances in twirls,
leaps a grand jete’

and lands light in risen dust,
only to once again
stretch long powerful steps,
and take flight,

perform a grand pas de chat
and land spinning
into a Capoeira Queixada.

Dust like glowing sparks settles around him
in a sudden beam of the setting sun.

The traffic begins to crawl
and I wonder if
I am the only one who witnessed
the angel under the bridge

who danced in shadow,
who was light revealed,

and if any of this is real.

V.

I’m of the D people.

VI.

Eyes closed, the student types
as if composing for an orchestra,

his fingers flying over the keys
as he sways and rocks to a tune

setting him in motion
from his mind to his fingertips.

In this moment he is more holy
than the day he was born

taking part in the continuous act
of constant creation

fully submitted to his existence
as open conduit

to a will
beyond his own.

VII.

The sweet, wizened
lady at the Kroger register
asks about the kippah.
And then the coming
Yom Kippur.
Why do we fast?

Because
on this day of days
we’re compared to angels
who can do without nourishment.

But really we’re just hungry
all day, praying
to return
to what we know:

food and drink
and longing.

She says,
I turned to Gd late
in life.

Never too late,
I say cheerfully.

It was after my husband died.

Oh.

I’m sorry.

And she looks beyond my shoulder,
and points in some vestibule
of her memory, and says,

It’s been fifteen years
and I still expect him
to walk through that door
any minute.

That’ll be one-forty-six-
eighty-two. You saved twelve
dollars. Have a blessed day.

VIII.

Which are you?
A. One who struggles.

IX.

Gd knows, I’m with you.

Even with our lapses
and our needs
we will be

like angels.

 

 

Photo by Charlein Gracia on Unsplash.