Day 1 – Poetry for Lent

Angel Sighting

This poem is essentially a prose poem, but since I’ve never written a prose poem before, I wasn’t sure what the structure should be. When I have more time, I’ll revisit and try it in paragraph form.

The content came to mind during the last several sermons we’ve had in church, where people shared a personal experience they’ve had with God. It reminded me of a time (way back) when I was visited by an angel–or so I do believe.

I met an angel the other day,
   downtown, in the rain, by the swollen river.
I was supposed to be scavenger hunting
   with a group of teenagers from my friend’s church,
   but they were clean and bright, and alive,
      —it was April and almost everything except for me was coming to life—
      searching for a statue, a stained glass window, a pigeon,
           and a playground with a slide.
I didn’t fit in, so I told my friend
      —a good, long-suffering friend who didn’t deserve 
      to be saddled with someone searching for meaning instead of a statue, 
           for peace instead of a pigeon, 
           for a window, stained or otherwise, out of the pain—
I had to leave
      and that’s how I ended up untethered by all that rushing water
           offering peace
           —or at least an escape from pain.

I watched a branch twirl,
      spin, go under, and re-surface,
          dancing in the current that bore it inexorably away
                until it was no more.
And it looked easy,
      like I could jump in
          and disappear,
                that water delivering
                     a cold hard slap to startle in a breath
                     like a doctor to a new born babe,
                          but instead of air and cries,
                          water and silence.
It would be like going backward, I thought,
   like being unborn, 
     taken apart until there was no more known or unknown,
         no more pain that ate and ate and ate 
             chewing through heart and soul until one was consumed alive
                 but still ravenous.
I thought all these things, 
      growing numb in the downpour,
      leaning a bit farther over the riverwalk edge
      to peer at the welcoming waters below.

And that’s when the angel appeared 
  —although maybe he was there for quite awhile and I just never noticed,
  too engrossed in beating back thoughts of failure, 
         the words never get better
         clashing in my head with always feel this way,
         supposed to be fixed,
         and can’t stand this anymore.
“Whatever you’re thinking,” he said, voice calm and tug-boat steady,
      as if we were friends in the midst of a conversation,
“It’s not the answer.” 
      Solemn faced, brown eyes clear and direct, 
      he held my gaze.
“Ok,” I said, 
  nodded and polite smiled, 
    looking back at the water which churned indifferent below,
        wondering what he saw, what my face could possibly have shown.
    “How—" I turned back 
           —whether to plead or question, I’m not sure-
but he was gone. 
  Not just walking away gone,
—the open area had nothing to block my view, no place for him to hide—
      but disappeared. 

Sure, you might be skeptical
      might think I made it up
          or maybe even imagined it.
He certainly wasn’t how I would’ve described an angel before
      —no wings, no bright light—
but how else might you explain what happened?

Thank God
I sought a different answer
     than what the river offered that day.