Poet Wrestling with Angels in the Dark

Rosebud Ben-Oni

Commissioned by the National September 11th Memorial & Museum

& their hearts are shards of stained glass
& their eyes bottle-green & incanting
the whole of this city & the whole of the city i have seen

        in the humidity
                sobering           the great rose window of st. john the divine
                        -ly unfinished              of the city

                                                                                        the whole of the city

        where one cold february in the bronx it was snowing
        & soren & i wrote love poems for garden-goers
        in the conservatory among succulents & palm trees
        & carnivorous plants behind glass whose green hearts dance

                                        in supper clubs of brighton beach
                                        another time the whole of city
                                        in winter stole & long-gloved
                                        the fearless girl of bowling green

                lays her weary head heavy
                in the chapel of temple emanu-el
                where the stained glass speaks
                of a sprawling city dreamed

        but never finished, the whole of this city

                & darelo & i take the second avenue subway
                & still don’t quite believe its existence,
                though third rail, live wire, heartbeat.

                        & 7 train love brings me home, though signal malfunction,
                        though delays, though local turns express midway & doors

                                                                don’t always open
                                                                        without the whole of the city
                                                                                filling us all to the brim.

& i have ridden my beloved 7 carrying post-heartbreak
        jerusalem, when more than once i was broken glass
                shattering in the midharov
                        empty on sabbath morning.

& in these shards are the stained-glass angels
        i have wrestled in the dark,
                wrapped around their soda-lime
                        limbs like potter’s wheel.

& only in my beloved’s arms do each day i awaken
        in the whole of the city
                as lasting & green
                        as the kind of fragment
                                you plant & let broken-be

“Poet Wrestling with Angels in the Dark” was commissioned by and written for the “When The Towers Fell” Public Program at the National September 11th Memorial & Museum.

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