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Patricia Spears-Jones in The New Yorker

Patricia Spears-Jones, Senior BEI Fellow, was featured in The New Yorker’s “Our Year in Poems”. For the list of the other poems. Here is her poem


Once a beauty, full figured, beloved
And then a fever, sweats, water vomited
Until the body gave out. And then,

Wings and lyres and legion of other
Angels. Singing, dancing, flying about,

But once a beauty remembers
Physical love and then its loss

Eternal life seems mundane
No conflict or need or desire.

Thus, this seraphim held melancholy
Gentle as a lull in a long conversation

But heaven allows only jubilance.
Possibly the angel needed to return

Human: with feelings, tears and laughter
Or find a way to shape the sadness into
A moment of beauty when the angel’s wings
Spread and flight moves to breathing
Full of vision. There the angel’s tears bond
with the visitor’s fear, awe. It could be

a filmmaker’s perambulating Berlin,
in search of a reason to consider
the spirit, those angels set
on top of monuments
across the handsome city.

And they love the lovers.
And one remains lovingly disinterested.

How dreams and death and a dearth
Of joy is visible. And wings spread
And wings fall. And the beloved becomes
A man who understands a woman’s
Full figure. A man who fears fever.
A man who takes his lover in all
Her melancholy and lifts her up

And unto joy.