Angel Jacks

Brian Blanchfield

A late March dusting overnight, confection

finish. Sun in the east sky pushing out

novelty. I don’t think I’ll go out awhile.

My husband and I have Aries mothers, we

stiffen and stun in their active industry,

that’s our grammar: not really here, hooding

our doodle with our free hand, turned away

as if by wind. Mine and I don’t speak

anymore. Their birthdays start and end

the week ahead. Ever late preparing,

we unlock the hideyhole: amulets, boyish

sentiments, simpler years. Pantry stand.

We resist each other’s help, assist each other’s

no and nod.

Ten bighorn on the Perma

ridge Monday when I drove home, careful,

still, each midstair, all on the case

only they see across the face of the cutout

basalt pile, the pachinko of one block

pretty pleistocene tink to its fall.

None breaks to countenance the mistake.

We looked more than a minute at our opposite.

Ace through nine face up, all of a suit.

In the pool that morning there were three of us.

Judy, retired, and Ellen, not yet, tending

bar weeknights at Main & Arlee. We spoke

of all manner of things: family, tea, heydays

of devilry here or peace, the summer shade

the bare tree will give, the clock beneath

the eave that hasn’t yet skipped its hour,

easy wish it were earlier. We soaked

our soak, silent some in the plot. Then,

Judy said what she does here when she soaks

alone: shuts her eyes and offers her face

at the spout, kicks her legs high behind her,

thirty reps each, walks the perimeter.

So we each in turn described our privacy’s

ritual. Mine they had me demonstrate:

to float angels on my back maximally slow,

inflating and expelling one lungful

per one wingbeat. I was conscious not

to flutterkick noticeably. We were in this

medium together, and the business of

my sacrament could ruin it. I made

my shape. I breathed. I kept my position

more or less in the heart of the area.

I moved through regret into experience.

I looked straight ahead, up, into nothing.

Brian Blanchfield is the author of three books of poetry and prose. For Proxies: Essays Near Knowing, he received a Whiting Award, and his A Several World was the recipient of the Academy of American Poets’ James Laughlin Award and longlisted for the National Book Award. He lives in Missoula and teaches at the University of Montana.
Originally published:
March 4, 2024


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