Angels By B. H. Fairchild

Elliot Ray Neiderland, home from college   
one winter, hauling a load of Herefords   
from Hogtown to Guymon with a pint of   
Ezra Brooks and a copy of Rilke’s Duineser   
Elegien on the seat beside him, saw the ass-end   
of his semi gliding around in the side mirror   
as he hit ice and knew he would never live   
to see graduation or the castle at Duino.

In the hospital, head wrapped like a gift
(the nurses had stuck a bow on top), he said
four flaming angels crouched on the hood, wings   
spread so wide he couldn’t see, and then
the world collapsed. We smiled and passed a flask   
around. Little Bill and I sang Your Cheatin’   
Heart and laughed, and then a sudden quiet   
put a hard edge on the morning and we left.

Siehe, ich lebe, Look, I’m alive, he said,   
leaping down the hospital steps. The nurses   
waved, white dresses puffed out like pigeons
in the morning breeze. We roared off in my Dodge,   
Behold, I come like a thief! he shouted to the town   
and gave his life to poetry. He lives, now,   
in the south of France. His poems arrive   
by mail, and we read them and do not understand.


B. H. Fairchild, “Angels” from The Arrival of the Future. Copyright © 2000 by B. H. Fairchild. Reprinted with the permission of Alice James Books.

Source: The Arrival of the Future (Alice James Books, 2000)

Poet Bio