Shoulder angels


Angels: a dossier

1. Apparitions

At dawn, a figure looms
from horizon to zenith,
a heaven-lit shadow
above burning coals;

a gyre of wings, faces,
blindingly bright,
rings the meridian sun:
a golden whirlwind;

high over the cliffs
a bird-like form
hangs on a thermal,
outlined by will-o'-the-wisp light;

inside eerie brilliances
of cloud and lightning,
for a split second
a flame-shaped presence.

2. Visitations

Embodied, they come amongst us,
feet almost touching earth,
the hems of their robes
twitching for take-off,

their rapt, attentive faces
not quite human
never less than perfect.

Messengers who cannot be killed —
they bring omens, good news;
with monastic calm announce

the seeding, saving moment:
__________the depth of the Divine
__________illumining a fertile soul.

In bare-floored studios —
dust motes drifting through ladders of light —
they lend their eyes to artists, poets,

guide laden brush or nib towards

ensure each rhythmic row of feathers
glows coral red, maize-yellow,
ocean blue;

damascene haloes, wing-tips,
so they'll shimmer in candlelight.

3. Guardian Angels

__________a benign shadowing
__________a prophetic vigilance

__________a timeless listening
__________an enfolding otherness...

So palpably invisible
you know they must be there:

beings of light
__________who spark the soul's intelligence,
__________summon leaps of faith,
__________sow patience.

They do not need to breathe
but sometimes do,
in sympathy.

They have no cause to feel
but often do: standing close
they allow tides of grief
to pass through them;

act as bulwarks against
gale-force passions,
the virus of wanting everything.

__________On a dawn cliff-top, they hover
__________in the half-smile shared by strangers
__________as a vast wing of sea-light
__________spreads over feathery darkness.

4. Shoulder Angels

The one on the left, wearing
crimson tights, promises the world,
probes with his pitchfork for hidden desires,
sports a prehensile tail
able to wrap around your mind.

Aureoled by electrum,
his counterpart, in snowy alb,
meditates on your right shoulder,
sending into your soul's bloodstream
a thirst for peace,
__________for the balm of its completeness —

__________an airy nudge:
_______________eternity now
_______________eternity now

5. Icons

Tobias and the Angel, Workshop of Andrea del Verrocchio

Verrocchio gives us an older brother,
buoyantly strong, who walks with
a dancer's step beside Tobias.

Raphael — soon to reel in
the story's next silvery twist;
reveal the healing secret —
shares the glory of his wings'
palette with his charge

whose amaranth-hosed legs
in umber boots, plant him
so convincingly on earth;
whose black and lapis lazuli cloak
lifts, swirls, would fly.

Jacob's Dream, Rembrandt van Rijn

Jacob sleeps beneath a canopy of care:
the half-sketched watcher
holds out his hand, palm-down —
instilling the dream
with a look of such grave compassion
as to make the angelic seem
an enhanced humanness.

The Annunciation, Jan Van Eyck

Arrrayed in an archbishop's
traceried gold cope —
deep-slitted at the back
so tinctured wings can slip through —
Gabriel waits on Mary's words
with the graced stillness of one
able to move between spheres
as effortlessly as a singer's voice
travels from one window to another
across a summer courtyard.

6. Praise

On this planet
where some few can engrave —
with pulse slowed, breath held — a poem
onto a human hair

on this planet
the size of a sunspot —
an outrush from one of the sun's pores,
an open furnace door

on this planet
whose every plant and creature
seeks fullness of being —
a poignant efflorescence —

we cannot hear those choirs that praise,
under the cathedral light of heaven,
the Source, the Mystery,
which holds us all in life

yet catch echoes of their frequencies
in sacred music here,
______________rising like incense
from chapel, mosque and temple,
from grasslands, rainforest, desert.

A holy hearkening.
______________The sound of radiance. 

Diane FaheyDiane Fahey has been awarded various poetry prizes, literary fellowships, and residencies, and is the author of eight poetry collections, as well as a verse novel. The Wing Collection: New & Selected Poems will be published by Puncher & Wattmann in 2011. 

Topic tags: Diane Fahey, Angels: a dossier, new Australian poetry



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Existing comments

This is outstanding, extraordinary in the best senses of the word - the creative-poetic sense, the religious sense, the everyday sense & it is in a way also a sensual poem about angels, which leaves you breathless.
Frank Joussen | 14 December 2010

Those shoulder angels (on the left) are also known as muses. And aren't they more fun in their crimson tights, than the Snowy Alb(erts) on the right?
Penelope | 14 December 2010

Diane Fahey's poems are full of the poet's gift of seeing, and grace us with heart-rending and hope.
Joanne Carroll | 14 December 2010


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