Angel Of Dissent
The young man's story was set on a cliff
by Betsy Sholl
with many sheer angles of descent—
fourteen pages of single-spaced onion-skin
smudged with angles of darkness, one clever
angle of vengeance, brooding, fierce-eyed,
with no punctuation—which the class
discussed as given, the text as written.
But under his clamped lid the kid boiled:
Were we mocking him? Before I could think,
'two lines diverging—that's the plot,' before
I could say, 'typos are your friend,' he grabbed
his coat and slammed out—so hard glass flew,
grazing the student who'd leaned forward in her seat
as if looking for an angle that might
open the view. Through the window's narrow slant
he peeled out, gunned around a car slowing to turn.
Burnt rubber, skid marks. Angle of rotten impulse
and raw luck no one was coming the other way.
Obtuse, instincts off, reading that story the night before,
I left the stove on under an empty skillet,
so its acrid scent angled up the stairs,
iron pan melting into a tale of vengeance,
with enough steep drops to obliterate everyone
a young man wants to blame for his hurts—
as if he had strapped on wings the wrong size
intending to fly, but they dragged him down
through fissures of unforgiveness. Iron wings.
Deep snow of an un-examined life.
Some mistakes you replay like old movies
run in reverse to turn a fall into flight,
or melt glass back into its innocent pane.
I could have asked about evening light
on that mountain, the rosy swaths cutting
through trees, their limbs bristling on all sides—
like what? Like angels? Still green, untried.