Awash with Angels

Awash with Angels

The morning air is all awash with angels
—Richard Wilbur, “Love Calls Us to the Things of This World”

The eyes open to a blue telephone

In the bathroom of this five-star hotel.


I wonder whom I should call? A plumber,

Proctologist, urologist, or priest?


Who is blessed among us and most deserves

The first call? I choose my father because


He’s astounded by bathroom telephones.

I dial home. My mother answers. “Hey, Ma,”


I say, “Can I talk to Poppa?” She gasps,

And then I remember that my father


Has been dead for nearly a year. “Shit, Mom,”

I say. “I forgot he’s dead. I’m sorry—


How did I forget?” “It’s okay,” she says.

“I made him a cup of instant coffee


This morning and left it on the table—

Like I have for, what, twenty-seven years—


And I didn’t realize my mistake

Until this afternoon.” My mother laughs


At the angels who wait for us to pause

During the most ordinary of days


And sing our praise to forgetfulness

Before they slap our souls with their cold wings.


Those angels burden and unbalance us.

Those fucking angels ride us piggyback.


Those angels, forever falling, snare us

And haul us, prey and praying, into dust.

Photography by Mary Mattingly

Photography by Mary Mattingly



Sherman Alexie

Cover Photography by Roe Ethridge