creative process, Nature Photography, Poetry, Printmaking, Writing

The Day of the Angel

In 2013 I wrote a poem that I’ve made a few changes to this year. Among the additions, I’ve changed the reference to passing years to bring it up to date. The setting for the poem that I see in my mind’s eye is a place my husband and I visited in Cypress Hills Park in Saskatchewan in 2011. Here’s a photo I took of the scene. And following the poem is a work in progress relating to it–a collage I’m making from parts of old wood and linoleum cuts. I’ll post the finished piece later on.

Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, Saskatchewan, 2011
The Day of the Angel

It’s the day of the angel.
When I come upon him
he’s not fluttering about,
he’s landed in the meadow
where he walks toward
the small conifers
that have taken root in the centre.
I’m on the trail above the clearing.
As usual, I’m photographing the land
so when he turns to me
I take his picture too.
I’m not sure what the etiquette is
for photographing angels
but he doesn’t seem to mind.
He flies over to me 
with a doe in his arms
who bolts into the forest 
once released.
We look at the displayed image on my camera
(I’d wondered if angels leave visible after traces
and it seems they do)
his morpho blue wings show up particularly well.

We don’t have much to say to one another.
Other than the odd stuttering, I am unable to speak
and the only sounds he makes are low pitched hums.

We walk together under lodge pole pines
and he gestures that he wants to hold the camera.
I hand it to him
and show him how to use it.
He photographs things I hadn’t seen—
bows of light, wings
previously invisible above the meadow
and one of me—
before he walks into the forest
where the trees obscure him.
Later I look at the image he took of me
it’s a flattering one,
my often frozen nervousness not apparent.
Behind me the doe he’s carried
is just visible, peering out from the trees.

It’s a week before Christmas.
60 years ago my heart was operated on.
As that chilling anniversary comes calling
any help from spirits, dreams and the imagination
is most welcome
shifting my attention from fear and pain
to the luminous
here
in my quiet workroom above the city
as my days fall to earth
in the waning light of the sun.

Lily S. May, December 2013-2021
The Day of the Angel, Collage in Progress, Lily S. May, 2021

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