The Visit

When I looked up from my blank page
there was an angel in the room.

A rather commonplace angel,
presumably of lower rank.

You cannot imagine, he said,
the degree to which you’re dispensable.

Of the fifteen thousand hues of blue,
he said, each one makes more of a difference

Than anything you may do
or refrain from doing,

Not to mention the feldspar
or the Great Magellanic Cloud.

Even the most comm. Plantain, unassuming
as it is, would leave a gap. Not you.

I could tell from his bright eyes –
he hoped for an argument, for a long fight.

I did not move. I waited in silence
until he had gone away. 

The Great Goddess

She works away day and night,
bent over her darning-egg,
an end of thread between her lips,
mending all manner of things.
Ever new holes, new ladders.

Sometimes she nods off
just for a moment
or for a century. Then,
pulling herself together,
she is back at her needlework.

How tiny she has become,
tiny, wrinkled and blind!
With her thimble she feels
for the holes in the world
and darns and darns.

In Jerusalem

There’s this bloody old stone
in the middle of the road.
Everybody wants to own it,
God knows why.

Really ancient, it looks,
and every single pilgrim
who steps on it,
fingers it, kisses it,
knocks his bleeding head on it,
adds a bit to the grime.

It blocks the traffic,
wheelcarts, trunks and policemen,
but there is no way in sight
to get it out of the way.
It has been here too long,
for an eternity.

It is holy. Nobody knows
what it is good for. Beauty
is not its forte.
But even people like myself
who have no use for it
won’t pass it without stumbling.