Poetry

The Hastily Assembled Angel on Care and Vitality

Shane McCrae

The hastily assembled angel watches

From the air he watches   from that point in the air

Where years from now the apex of the pyra-

mid he is watching being       built will be

Invisibly       he watches as slaves roll

Huge stones from the quarry to the pyramid the

Slave who invented       the method for moving

The stones is dead       the stones       that were too big

For human beings to move       the angel saw

The slave was killed for       attempting to correct

The implementation of his method       which

The Egyptian engineers had not at first

Completely understood       though even as

His dark blood made the dirt beside them dark

They saw the first board buckle       beneath the weight

Of the first stone       fortunately the slave had

Explained his method often to his fellow

Slaves       and they could when they were ordered to

Silently make it work the angel sees the

Slaves serve their masters most       efficiently

When they aren’t talking to each other       but

They serve their masters most       quickly just after

They have devised a plan to kill their masters

Shane McCrae is the author of Sometimes I Never Suffered. He has received an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Award, a NEA Fellowship, and a Whiting Writer’s Award. He teaches at Columbia University.
Originally published:
April 1, 2020

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