Jane Satterfield

from Migrant Universe

                    based on a series by Tanja Softić

                                        "Between two worlds / life hovers like a star."

Second Angel

Something's decided to narrate in more dimensions than I can know: this angel's transmission across time and space. Telegraph towers mapping the tangle of transit. When I go back I feel exiled from it all . . . And always there are two thoughts, one cutting through the first until it isn't there . . . The habitual dreams: the road away, the bombed-out station. Concerning the centrality of the spoken word, concerning arcane markings, thresholds, fences and bridges—. Concerning the heat: heraldic in the depots of time. Through the scrim of leaves overhead, through the scrim of habitude, through the scrim of all we inhabit, these husks gathered at dawn. Rendezvous at messenger nine. Or think how we hacked through woods to emerge at a temporary clearing—the storied dusk. The hum overhead. In the here and now—the map packed and secure. Messengered to me.


Angel of Absence

Note in passing that one landscape bleeds into the next: the midsummer field's soon shot over with a silhouette of your hometown square. Note in passing some of the walls have been whitewashed . . . Track shadows, echoes, scents; track prints and the grainy dust of blitz sites. Unbidden the angel of absence arrives. Unbidden, the angel of absence will drape these beads, these blessings, this dark bouquet. Will upend any notion of absolutes. Abides no citizen's outmoded coinage. Unbidden, the angel of absence extends a companionable arm. Insists you hold these countries close . . . ensures you walk aware of other shifts of emphasis, erosions, contractions and croppings. After the forays have ended the angel of absence gifts. Years later, tickets and wishes, timetables, stamps and identity cards tumble from a book's cracked spine. On each other's hands who care . . . on the side of angels in pleasure parks, cul-de-sacs: the perfumes of distance and local cuisine and the fountain empty in the market square where once you stood seraphic.



Notes for "Second Angel":
Roy Fisher; Larry Levis, "Elegy With the Sprawl of a Wave in It"

Notes for "Angel of Absence":
Ciaran Carson "Belfast Confetti"; John Berrryman, "Homage to Mistress Bradstreet"