Monday Jan 22

EdisonJenningsEdison Jennings lives in Abingdon, Virginia and teaches at Virginia Intermont College. His poems have appeared in Kenyon Review, Slate, Southern Review, and other journals.
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Man Dreaming of Angels

Show me an angel and I will paint one.
                                             Courbet

It's hot outside and the bedroom,
not much cooler where flyspecked curtains
hang limp and stain the humid air
fevered yellow, and a white-haired man
lies on an iron bed, sheets tossed off
in classical disarray. The man, I should add,
is naked. Private shamelessness
or return to innocence? Certainly,
he's old enough to have carried shame
in a secret pocket for decades,
or in the false heel of a shoe, or sewn
beneath the skin, a lump of dense
unstable metal bought in some black market,
the zing of particulate poison titillating,
like a lover's sly touch below the table
of a crowded restaurant, but also old enough
to have aged beyond shame's half-life,
his flesh unleavened, like lead.
But note the way his eyelids flutter.
Should we conclude, only REM?
Watch a moment more and listen.
Be very still. (We'll slip out soon,
he'll never know.) A soft backwash
of wings mixes smell of sweat
with sallow light, and a warm sweet moan
hovers near at hand. Insects? birds?
Feathered things, creatures of light and air
that shimmer on the pale of sense
and look like us, but more so.