Waiting for What Gabriel Brings

                                        i. Tobias

     Wings of archangels beat
like propellers of Apache
helicopters, dispatching from
     the Holy See a sealed

          missive their silent embassy
               sends to me, a jewel-
          encrusted thing, an encrypted
               tablet I scroll, seeking

          the keys to the great mystery,
               inhaling deep whispers
          flaming blades drop to grass below,
               toeing snow-blown valleys

     of shadows to know why
Heaven has sent as winds over
river bends, her lips thick like thighs
     dividing consonants

          by continents, these wingèd men
               to prosper my journey
          with peace by a single passage,
               translated out of its

          ancient tongue into forty-four
               languages, a candid
          condolence for my grief, my sin’s
               crippling shame at my own

     iniquity, my pain’s
unwillingness to let live my
soul’s eternity, formed for me
     before the world, these words’

          messengers comforting with their
               passionate and perfect
          mathematics, bring a passage
               time cuts into quarters

                                        ii. Azariah

          telling me: “Find joy in the place
               of your sorrow, follow
          its breath of incense like a path
               to the waterless place

     where clouds full of promise
swell, find there tomorrow, casting
away your troubles of today,
     binding hand and foot what

          demon has put its desert tongue
               like a torch to your throat,
          find in pain the pleasure of not
               having to borrow from

          another mortal his or her
               story, to know in your
          own life and sphere what the world fears,
               and to live yet again,

     having emerged from doubt’s
blushing crimson to the melting
snow of refreshing wisdom, chill
     cleansing from them and from

          you, what condemns free men and keen
               beauties each to eschew
          liberty and choose solitude,
               that demon that does not

          harm you, but kills anyone who
               desires to approach you,
          exorcise its hold by reading
               between the lines this poem,

     its verse torn from minds far
greater than your own, those judges
and prophets whose thoughts kiss, across
     centuries their love known.”