Where were we? In the Métro,
somewhere under Paris. A chill new year,

and the scruffily seraphic boy across the aisle
was bored. All he had to play with was a pen,

no paper, his fingers bloody with red ink.
His mother wanted it back. She wanted to sleep.

She held out her hand, which he turned over,
and on the tired skin he drew—what was it?

Something almost Euclidean,
hair spiralling out from a round, flat face

balanced on an almost equilateral dress.
“Une femme?” she asked. “Un ange,” he said,

in the season when wings might be mistaken
for the puffy sleeves of a party gown.

And, as if wings weren’t enough to deliver them,
next to the angel he drew an automobile aslant,

trailing flames, it could go so fast. Long and low—
child, where would you go? You won’t remember this,

which is as it should be. Let your mother sleep,
and no sign of harm come to you in her dream.


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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 23 Number 9, on page 37
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