Angel On High
An angel came to me today,
small and full of memories
a hodgepodge of worn paint,
and yellowed glue
chipped on her edges
and thick with the scent of my youth.
Imperfect, old, barely there.
You promised her to me
when I was as small as her.
Imperfect, young, barely there.
You said to me, “When I die, you
can have this angel, and she will always
look after you, even when I’m not around anymore,
to do it myself.”
It took more than the two years since your death
for her to find her way to me
but today she finally found me.
I’ve placed her somewhere high.
Given her pride of place
amongst childhood trinkets,
things that I can’t bring myself to part with
remnants of my smallness.
top shelf, where all the best stuff is.
She’s surrounded by gold now,
The gold that grazed your weary flesh
as you breathed your last.
Rested on your pulse as you passed
from one void to the next.
The last of your skin cells,
still nestled between the
tiny crevices and notches
of your own trinket you couldn’t
bear to part with.
The top shelf,
where all the best stuff is.
where my last piece of you
is guarded by an angel.
You never ask me for my words,
you just let them drip from my lips.
like an inkwell holds the unwritten.
Consonants and vowels move around my tongue
and all you do is draw them from me
completing my sentences
forming full phrases
making a complete passage out of everything I say.
You never ask me for my touch
or my breath
those are things I give to you without a preponderance
You pull my insides out like liquid silk
and wrap them around yourself
clothed in effervescent innards
the heart of me
the lungs and guts and spleen.
splayed out you leave me.
It’s almost violent in its intensity.
In the thick heaving bosom of what
passes between us lays the
unerring simplicity of elegant lust.
You never ask me for myself because
you already have me.
You carry me in those hands of yours
that I can not look at,
without something stirring
deep within me.
The gentle, firm grasp
of your slender arms.
The softness of your presence
the lightness of your company.
The giddy stratospheres you take me to
the way you see me…
There’s just something so beautiful
In the way you never ask.
Small things linger
a few weeks ago you sat at the foot of my bed
the light drenching you from behind,
casting your face in silhouette
we sat in silence
and read Kerouac and Ginsberg together
and lost ourselves in other people’s perspectives.
and I glanced at you, squinty-eyed as the light cloaked you
your hair a striking auburn glare
you didn’t know that I was looking
didn’t know that I was taking in every inch of you
forcing my eyes to adjust to the light so that I could look straight at you
devouring every morsel
hungry and searching
mine, I thought
forever, I thought
the weight of my love impossible
the cadence of your quiet breathing beating life into me
you looked so beautiful clothed in the sun
so ethereal and otherworldly
small things linger
I’ve never been looked at
the way she looks at me.
with fire in her eyes
and a rumble in her belly,
like all the heavens come alive
whenever she casts her gaze
in my direction.
Sometimes her love for me is palpable
like it round house kicks me deep in my gut
upends me and knocks me from my standing.
Sometimes it is delicate,
and it traces its way across my flesh
languishing over every bump,
every part of me.
That’s how she loves me
with teeth and hair and bone
with skin and guts and blood
as though her whole world
is set ablaze
by the locking of our eyes.
I think it’s so pure,
so perfect the way she sees me,
that I am devastated
by the beauty of it,
But when the intensity abates
I can gaze right back at her,
with all of my heart
dangling from the tips
of my eyelashes
and I am as raw
and bare as I can be,
and right at that moment
when our gaze is locked
and our souls are naked to each other,
I hope that she knows,
that I have never been looked at
the way she looks at me.
Angel on High and other poems are © Aoife Read