A wooden chair nailed to a tall, headless, branchless tree trunk:
“a vintage piece of Santa Fe whimsy,” my friend says.
Real life looking surreal, suspended above red desert dust
swirling at the cross-roads like two Cochiti women and a boy.
At night, a coyote flees across the street, alone,
briefly illuminated by the headlights of a stranger’s car.
Is my angel sitting in that high chair like a three-year-old,
struck dumb by the memory of my father getting out of the bath?
Is my angel running after the coyote in the dark
while I wrestle with a demon in the air above my bed?
Is my angel tired after thirty-three years of trying to protect
the impossible child, soul screaming, mouth streaming bitter-white?
The monsoon comes. Lightning without thunder,
rain without remorse. Sunflowers bloom in the desert.
The double rainbow appears: a piece of heaven’s ephemera,
the original translucent found-art object in the sky.
Brewer’s blackbird sings me awake. A hummingbird darts close,
then away. Mariposa wings open, yellow and black, eyes on her back.
Is my angel in the rain? Does Michael steal the thunder?
Does Gabriel paint the sky?
Will Raphael uproot the sunflowers? Wave them over my head
like a wand and turn me into a blue jay?
I see one now. He sits on a twig, shits white, flies toward me,
and vanishes. Everything disappears into eternity.
Beside a cholla cactus, I sit sheltered by a Cochiti-red blanket,
scraping dry pottery shards against the wounded ground.
I spit in the sand, mix a gritty glue, paste one shard
against another until a broken-faced doll holds all the babies
my angel remembers in pain. I paint her clay storyteller-skin
blue as the turquoise sky, pure as clouds over the badlands.
Jane Beal, PhD is a poet and professional writer. She is the creator of more than a dozen poetry collections, including Sanctuary (Finishing Line Press, 2008) and The Roots of Apples (Lulu Press, 2012), as well as three recording projects: Songs from the Secret Life, Love-Song, and with her brother, saxophonist and composer Andrew Beal, The Jazz Bird. She also writes fiction, creative non-fiction, and works of literary scholarship. To learn more, please visit http://sanctuarypoet.net.