This poem by inspired by a story I heard on PBS, about a woman who related her visions of making love with Archangel Gabriel, occasionally joined by Archangel Raphael (or was it Michael?). In order to retain the custody of her daughter, the woman agreed to take anti-psychotic drugs. The visions ceased. “But I am lonely,” she said.
To me the
not with a lily but a branch of flame.
In bed he covered us with his wings,
so soft I thought I’d drown in them.
I said, what if I roll over in my sleep,
your wing could break. But he explained
the wings were made of wishing on a star,
an astral amalgam, they cannot break.
Amalgam! My knees go weak
when I wade in those liquid syllables.
An angel is a moment of eternity,
Gabriel explained. God makes love
all the time, his only interest
is sex, that’s what comes of being
immortal. We were given dying
so we could transcend
the body’s umber aftermath.
In memory of me, Gabriel said,
wear a silk slip like an embrace.
What matters in the end, he said,
is silk underwear,
because the only heaven we will have
is here, unless we make it hell.
Black on black fire like the ocean’s
skin at night, I slip into more slips
than dresses now. I paint heaven
in dreams and awake: plangent,
refulgent, luminescent –
because what darkness hides
are the cities of the plain:
O little town of
how still we see thee lie.