our village (36)

“In spring the blue azures bow down
at the edges of shallow puddles
to drink the black rain water.
Then they rise and float away into the fields.

Sometimes the great bones of my life feel so heavy,
and all the tricks my body knows―
the opposable thumbs, the kneecaps,
and the mind clicking and clicking—

don’t seem enough to carry me through this world
and I think: how I would like

to have wings—
blue ones—
ribbons of flame.

How I would like to open them, and rise
from the black rain water.

And then I think of Blake, in the dirt and sweat of London—a boy
staring through the window, when God came
fluttering up…”


And something in me fluttered up at that moment, all his talk of floating away on spring’s blue wings … but when he said, “God came fluttering up” I got all nervous, self-conscious, I could feel myself starting to sweat – an old woman like me – so in a rush to change the subject, I said, “Who is Blake?” and Mr. Bellis kindly obliged my nervous interruption.

“Ah, William Blake, the prophet poet, a Romantic, a mystic, a visionary. There in the poem, in Mary Oliver’s ‘Spring Azures,’ Blake is looking through the window—he’s only a child at the time, before he’s a poet himself, of course—in the grime of London, nothing fancy, regular house, regular day, could be us here, Ms. Marquetta, except it’s London, bustling, and William Blake is a little boy looking out his window when…he sees the face of God.”

“Did he talk to him? Did William Blake talk to God?”

“Well that’s an interesting question, Ms. Marquetta. I think many would say that he did. You see, he claimed to see visions through his life, and, although he wasn’t a religious man, per se—some would even interpret his mystic poetry as blasphemous, his supposed philosophy of free love and what have you—yet in other ways he was quite religious, obsessed perhaps, a visionary perhaps…perhaps even a prophet…a prophet of God or a confidante of God, I could hardly be expected to know, Ms. Marquetta, as that is between a man long deceased and God.

“Tomorrow, if I may, Ms. Marquetta, I will share with you a poem of William Blake’s. I shall find the right one. Until then, Ms. Marquetta, have a blessed day.”

And he left and I was still all in a flutter, I tell you, maybe more fluttered than I’d been before. I had meant to change the topic from that poem he was telling me – away from flights of fancy and God in the window – when he starts in on this business of prophets, the very thing I was wondering about Lilly-Anne, the very topic I’ve been meaning to mention to Mr. Bellis, cuz I still haven’t asked him what he thinks about the improbably pregnant Lilly-Anne – she’s his neighbor, too – and I just can’t help but wonder if Mr. Bellis or these poems are somehow messages from God.

Am I crazy? I just don’t want to miss it if I’m the one is supposed to hear messages from God for Lilly-Anne. I think I’d do anything to help that girl. It’d be like redeeming myself.


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