In the redcoat she (who is I) was
an angel, dark and bright.

Mama chose the drama:
pretty scarlet to subdue the white
walk, a world dumb with snow,

patentleather shoes to shine

the path over ice. My

father paid the way.
His teeth salt inside the grin.

I (who’s she) had a manner
of leaping toward a light
suddenly running into ecstasy
or heat, exquisitely blind
in the body racing inside it-
self. A little fit of imagining.

Thin arms, cropped wings,
to hold the bristly branches of fir, and sing-
ing, sisters and brothers itching,
happy from angelhair fine as a strand of cat
hair split six ways and brushed into the skin
to itch and itch again.
We were wild and giddy with gifts.

It was then and always as all souls itch and spin
in lit-red coats that float down this narrow vein,
so we spin in O, to someone who loves us
and suffers the world for each turn before a mirror,
quiet as ice, we fall all through at last
here in memory’s tiny Paradise.

From And All These Roads Be Luminous (Triquarterly, 1998) by Angela Jackson. Copyright © 1988 by Angela Jackson. Used with the permission of the author.