Story Publication logo December 13, 2010



Media file: Nadine.jpg

Last January's earthquake destroyed Haiti's health care system, once at the forefront of the...

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Multiple Authors
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Image by Andre Lambertson, Haiti, 2010.

I thought, he said of the wife
who lasted six months, before
the news of this treachery of the
blood, before he lay on his back,
the bottles of toxic drugs and poison
for rats lined up on his sill,
before the simple equation
of fatigue with this world plus
a body falling to ruin, a heart
shattered by a woman's laughter,
before all of this, she had left,
that wife, that angel, the women
of beauty who knew her beauty;
I thought, he said, she was an angel,
but she wasn't, as sometimes
happens. But now, he smiled
that lazy trickster grin, his
amber eyes sparkling, he's found
his archangel; and this is how
a cliché for the pop song
becomes the hymn for saints.
She came and saved him
the way archangels come into
a room—not asking permission;
walking in as if they have
an army of angels at their command—
wingless, they arrive like
the scent of incense, fill your
breath and place a hand on you,
and you fall in line. This is
bigger that love. A book;
an apocryphal book with chapter
and verse, could be written
about this thing—the voice
of God, the commanding
mystery of celestial beings
sacrificed to be the mates
of the flesh weak humans, she
is this archangel with a wound
in her body—as if the whole
thing was planned: I will
place a curse on you, something
haunting like leprosy would
have been, had they not found
its cure—something reserved
for the damned, they say, that
think you must whisper in the shadow
of crannies where thin bodies
lie sprawled out straining for air,
I will let her carry this in her,
and then I will command you
to marry her, take her as your wife,
and you will learn how much bigger
that desire this thing is, how much
wider than hunger. He looked
at her, lying here on her stomach
on that mattress covered in a white
sheet out there on the porch
where the air is cooler, and she
dressed in her pink church
skirt suit, looking at him, having
fed him, given him water to drink,
poured water for his hands,
and he said, "I do not deserve
her, her name should be grace,
I do not deserve this shelter,
and I ask her all the time,
why do you love me, and she
says, it is bigger than me and you,
and that is all she says." Maybe
a man must always wait to touch
the flesh of an archangel, a man
must come to the body of an
archangel as to an altar, a man
must not let the light her eyes
fool him into think this is
ordinary flesh; a man must wait
to marry her properly, give her
a ring, give her the laughter
of a family gathered, a man must
do all these things before he falls
prostrate before the body of
of an archangel who does not
even know she is divine
except in the way a vessel
knows it is set aside for pure
water. Love is desperate like
this for those who have come
away from the cataclysm of dust
and stone—those who have
come to know the ending
of things, those who live
as if tomorrow is not promised,
this is how love is for those
cursed with the love of arch-



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