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A Miscellany 66
Wings of Desire

by Michael J. Barney

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Wings of Desire
(for Cassiel and Damiel)

O host of the luminous holy—
we are the envy of every angel
who ever wanted breath to shout the blues—
for it is flesh, after all, that forms words
in the mouth, on the tongue, in the heart;
and those poor sad creatures beating

their wings in bright nowhere three slow beats
in every bar know the only true holy
creatures in any dimension are corporeal; hearts
inside bodies vulnerable as ash.  Angels
cannot break, can feel neither the sting of words
nor their palliation.  Despite the sky, there are no blues

in Heaven, only paler shades of gray.  Blues
and yellows and crimsons and magentas always beat
uncolors because they can be seen, words
and the music they contain can be heard, and this is what holies
the pregnable flesh of humans, this is what angels
envy: human senses, human desires, our hearts

ever hapless and full to bursting.  At the heart
of this matter is love.  Love blows through the blues.
Love touches flesh touching flesh.  Angels
have no flesh to touch, no mouths to taste the sweet beaten
grape, no nose to know flowers from offal.  Wholly
bereft of the mechanics of desire, they have but one: that the word

be made flesh—dropping their wings for words,
robes for wrap-around skin, harps for hearts:
to become fully human, truly holy.
Angels know no blues, but know the blues
sanctify the constant heavy-hearted beating
that solid life inflicts on those angels

strong and foolish enough to desire and attain flesh.  Angels
no more, having mumbled the magic words
“I love you” with the proper attitude of beatitude,
their bodies awkward and stumbling through the heart
of the world, they will learn loving, leaving, grieving, the blues
and the loose rules of joy—the goal of all holiness.

Holiness comes to every angel
who learns the true words of the blues—
humans have hearts that break, yet beat on.