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Angel Wings -- Brian Patten

Guest poem submitted by Caro Orange:
(Poem #1052) Angel Wings
 In the morning I opened the cupboard
 and found inside it a pair of wings,
 a pair of angel's wings.
 I was not naive enough to believe them real.
 I wondered who had left them there.

 I took them out the cupboard,
 brought them over to the light by the window
 and examined them.
 You sat in the bed in the light by the window grinning.

 'They are mine,' you said;
 You said that when we met
 you'd left them there.

 I thought you were crazy.
 Your joke embarrassed me.
 Nowadays even the mention of the word angel
 embarrasses me.

 I looked to see how you'd stuck the wings together.
 Looking for glue, I plucked out the feathers.
 One by one I plucked them till the bed was littered,

 'They are real,' you insisted,
 your smile vanishing.
 And on the pillow your face grew paler.
 Your hands reached to stop me but
 for some time now I have been embarrassed by the word angel.

 For some time now in polite or conservative company
 I have checked myself from believing
 anything so untouched and yet so touchable
 had a chance of existing.

 I plucked then
 till your face grew even paler;
 intent on proving them false
 I plucked
 and your body grew thinner.
 I plucked till you all but vanished.

 Soon beside me in the light,
 beside the bed in which you were lying
 was a mass of torn feathers;
 glueless, unstitched, brilliant,
 reminiscent of some vague disaster.

 In the evening I go out alone now.
 You say you can no longer join me.
 You say
 Ignorance has ruined us,
 disbelief has slaughtered.

 You stay at home
 listening on the radio
 to sad and peculiar music,
 who fed on belief,
 who fed on the light I'd stolen.

 Next morning when I opened the cupboard
 out stepped a creature,
 blank, dull, and too briefly sensual
 it brushed out the feathers gloating.
 I must review my disbelief in angels.
-- Brian Patten
I've never read a Brian Patten poem that I didn't like.  He has a couple of
poetry books - 'Gargling with Jelly' and can't remember the name of the
other one. There are web sites about him I think - it's been a while since I
looked. This one is a particular favourite - each time I read it I get
something different from it.

Caro.

41 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

HCurti said...

I first read this poem many years ago - I have used it as a touchstone ever
since. HC

m1295202 said...

i think that this poem is fantastic but i'm confused about it's meaning.
what have you taken as your meaning of the poem?

Fernandopulle said...

I'd like to know your interpretation of this...I see something new each time!

Nishalie

Lloydycracker said...

I've read and re-read this poem, from it get sacrifice, you sacrificed your
wings for me, your freedom, I flew with you for a time until our adventures
lost their colour, it was then I found your wings and I began to test you, to
see if you'd stay. I tore at them, tore at everything we'd built together,
tore at you, until I'd killed it all. Now I am full of shame and embarrassment,
and you are all but faded.
Perhaps this is too simplistic a view, any other thoughts...?

Amz

Nanapawpawx4 said...

I love your poem Its beautiful!!!!!

Smiffybilly said...

I think the poem is about how we stifle the one we love until they cannot
breathe, the Gargling with Jelly book is one of his childrens collections.I
recommend anyone reading this for the first time to check out his Love Poems
collection

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