She looks as though she’s wearing wings;
They’re folded neatly beneath her coat.
And I have sometimes wondered
While stepping out to smoke,
If a gentleman bravely offered,
To hang that somber cloak,
Would they spring, and would she float?
Or would they, could they, fall,
As fell one gorgeous cherub’s?
In fanciful colors?
Resplendent white tatters?
Oh, Autumn has scattered all her bright feathers.
For the Prince of the Air once boasted these glories,
Molted, though soaring, the buzzard-bird’s vanities.
Of such sad things Ezekiel wrote.
Perhaps instead they’d suddenly shatter,
As laughter bursts from a drunk man’s throat.
There they would lie,
Like shards of soft-clouded sky,
A puzzle-piece window for novice and abbot,
A brand new icon in blood-stained glass…
—But I broach the skirt. I won’t trespass.
Janus falters, the threshold looms,
Doorknob groans, and hinges moan.
But here, for me, for now at least,
The long-veilèd mysteries will last.
“Stay far and far and far away!”
Stay just behind the curtain, I say.
I’ll keep my eyes on the mud-strewn earth,
And hands in my pockets and shoes on the turf.
Let pill-bugs roll among the grass,
And earth-worms burrow beneath the dirt.
I leave Heaven and Heaven’s beatae above
To better, Italian poets.
For I wished to see, but could not see
An angel’s face in a pretty young lass.
And if Fortune smiles again tonight,
If perchance she comes to stay and dine,
Then I shall take her coat and all
And hang it next to mine—
But I’ll not look to see the wings.