Grief Calls Us to the Things of This World
The morning air is all awash with angels . . . - Richard Wilbur The eyes open to a blue telephone In the bathroom of this five-star hotel. I wonder whom I should call? A plumber, Proctologist, urologist, or priest? Who is most among us and most deserves The first call? I choose my father because He's astounded by bathroom telephones. I dial home. My mother answers. "Hey, Ma, I say, "Can I talk to Poppa?" She gasps, And then I remember that my father Has been dead for nearly a year. "Shit, Mom," I say. "I forgot he’s dead. I’m sorry— How did I forget?" "It’s okay," she says. "I made him a cup of instant coffee This morning and left it on the table— Like I have for, what, twenty-seven years— And I didn't realize my mistake Until this afternoon." My mother laughs At the angels who wait for us to pause During the most ordinary of days And sing our praise to forgetfulness Before they slap our souls with their cold wings. Those angels burden and unbalance us. Those fucking angels ride us piggyback. Those angels, forever falling, snare us And haul us, prey and praying, into dust.
From Face by Sherman Alexie. Copyright © 2009 by Sherman Alexie. Used by permission of Hanging Loose Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.