painting, Hugo Simberg, 1903
This happened long ago when blood
root bloomed, the dazed spring still
holding onto makeshift railings.
We sloshed around winter’s old fields
in poor man’s shoes, bought large
to grow into. We heard the stubble
breathe, caution, caution, saw
something white crumple and fall
from the sky. A heron? Wild swan?
We ran toward it. A wingéd thing,
a heap of feathers we carried home,
her feet too odd for any shoes.
That was the year an angel lived
in our kitchen, recuperating
on the bench beside Mother’s oven.
She isn’t like us, Mother said,
when we’re tired or hurt.
She won’t put up any fuss.
That was the year we learned
about earth and its gravities,
how they hold some of us
down, but free the unearthly.
From the kitchen’s back stoop
we three watched the angel
unfurl her wings one morning
and barefoot take flight
into the blue, infinite sky.