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Amy Randolph




They rise out of coarser selves, angels of bone

in winter.


            They know all fragilities

of matter, how broken things pray softest, and when God opens

     such cold and perfect hands, it is they who answer light

                                                                        with lightness.




I go back to January, back to the farmhouse

with its soft golden eyes, the dog pens

and fallen fence posts gloved in snow.


This is where a woman gets buried late at night,

over and over, under the blindness

of stars, wind clapping in the ears.  There are lanterns,

picks and shovels, the crush of heavy shoes.


They come slowly, carrying her body

which sings from the far edge

of a deep pasture.  I love the ones who do this to her.

It is right; and all around her a reaching, the wilderness leaning


toward tires and garden tools,

clothespins dangling like hagsteeth.  The moon, approaching descent,

spills its cold milk on the backs

of the laborers.  They are afraid of her pallidity

against their darkness, afraid because what grows in them


trembles like the edge of a great wing.  I name her “angel”

or “self.”  Beyond the fenceline, a thin sheet of snow

rises like a bride’s veil.  This is home, such grief and unfolding.

                       -from Cold Angel of Mercy