The Angel Yet to Come

by Deborah Pope

What it must be like
to be without
the shawl of illusion,
to be past
all past consolations,
the difficult arts
of belief and blame,
to climb
by a means of falling,
a hauling up
of hands and voices,
unwinding the lifeline
that is scar and seam,
through years like rooms,
where to be motherless
is not to be unmothered,
and to be loved is not saved,
nor saved, spared
either burning bed or holy fire,
where truth is older, harder,
with no power to undo
and even bread is easier to share —
what must it be
ever to choose
without promise,
solace, or cease,
the stubborn stone
of the human.

Deborah Pope has published three books of poems, Fanatic Heart, Mortal World, and Falling Out of the Sky, all from LSU Press, as well as one volume of criticism, A Separate Vision: Isolation in Contemporary Women’s Poetry (LSU, 1984). She edited the collection Ties That Bind: Essays on Mothering and Patriarchy (University of Chicago Press, 1990). Currently, she teaches at Duke University.

Poem from Falling Out of the Sky (LSU Press, 1999).