Poem of the Day: Susan Prospere

by | Jan 17, 2022 | Poem of the Day Series, Reading

Hi friends! A beautiful image for your Monday evening—



How cold the angels are—
so they come down to Mississippi,
their breath rising from the ice of their bodies 
to frost the clover. 

And they take the trees one by one
because they are jealous.
All night we listen from the screened porch
as the trees ice over and break,
their branches cannonading as the angels load them
with their terrible artillery. 

My mother plays old records of Big Band music
and we begin to dance—
my father, my mother, my brothers, and I.
We are embarrassed 
because we move together without grace,
but say it is exercise, after all, to warm our bodies.

We say tomorrow there will be firewood,
divinely prepared, throughout the forest. 
It is only a matter of taking the flatbed trailer 
and filling it with these offerings.
We discuss the blessed nature of destruction 
although we don’t believe it.
The angels are famous for their propaganda.

When Yankee soldiers camped in Christ Church
three miles down the road,
they played lewd airs and dances on the organ.
The angels must have heard them 
and left this part of the earth. 
The growing seasons are long now 
and stretch into winter. 

In June there will be sweetheart roses
along the whitewashed fences. 
Years ago I saw my father pin one on my mother 
as if it were a corsage she would wear
to enter the evening.
Her body was limber then,
and the angels would have envied her had they seen her,
dancing in the Bahia grass a private dance
that did not include my father
or any of us who watched from an upstairs window.
This was the province of the sacred,
and we begged her with rising voices to come indoors. 


—from Susan Prospere’s Sub Rosa (W.W. Norton & Company, 1992)