Poet’s notebook: My poem, “Angels fell like snow” and comments

Angels fell like snow

The angels fell with the snow.
Some fell soft
Some fell softer.

Some rolled when they landed.
They rolled like cotton balls
Coming to rest

Like tumble weeds of gauze;
They accumulated,
They piled up.

They tried their broken wings,
Like broken ornaments
Trying to shine.

Some fell on their backs
And waved their arms

Making angels in the snow.
Some cast off their wings and sat
And brooded like alabaster thinkers.

Some ran into the pines
Where the deer were abiding.
What do we do now?

The deer were not afraid;
They saw the fear in the angels’ eyes
and they looked at them with wonder;

They pawed the snow
And huffed but did not run.
They taught the angels

How to huff and paw the snow
And leap barbed wire fences
And hide.

The angels were quick learners.
More and more fell, like snowflakes,
And in the spring, like rain.


I wrote this poem while looking out of the upstairs window. It was steadily snowing, soft larger-than-normal flakes and this poem came to me all at once as if I was listening to a story being told to me by a gentle storm. The story is about angels falling but there is nothing violent in the narrative. But I wanted there to be more to it than just the weightless falling and landing of angels. My sense was that they would want to shift into some kind of action once they had safely landed. Having them meet the deer in the pines was the obvious solution because deer, to me, are the gentlest creatures in the forest. They would “get” angels and would even relate to their benign temperament. The angels are like aliens from a world of absolute non-violence. The poem tests what might happen in a situation where a peaceful race from somewhere else “falls” to Earth, and, instead of encountering human beings, with their complexes and defensive attitudes toward newcomers, they encounter a form of earthly life that thinks and behaves more like them. And the deer begin to teach them how to survive in an environment that is far from heavenly. This poem might even be addressing the refugee problem in a parallel, albeit poetic universe.

The ending is provisional. The poem is really just about angels falling, endlessly falling, but not filling up space because they are not necessarily solid but more like snow or water. And then I began to imagine that snow and rain are really falling angels. The concept is very surreal.


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