All night, angels
_ _crashed through the trees,
so the yard was a scatter
_ _of bent, failing bodies.
You said: Another! to the crackling of branches.
Their scraps are so sweet where they sway with the leaves.
From the garden, the asters said: Love was their weakness.
The firefly’s bright little heart disagreed_._
Then down fell another, where it cracked on a low branch,
waking the neighbors
_ _who leaned from their windows
and peered toward the trees.
A crowd had collected
_ in bathrobes and nightgowns,
their faces lit greenly in the angels’ dim glow.
I’d like to have known them
_ when they were more vibrant,
you said, looking down,
where one gurgled strangely,
_ _ its wings come undone.
A child had collected a handful of feathers.
Another threw sticks
_ _ at one caught on a limb.
We’d better get digging, our neighbor said softly._
They’ll stink in the sun._
Kevin Prufer is the author of, most recently, How He Loved Them (Four Way Books, 2018), which won the Julie Suk Award for the best poetry collection from the American literary press. He is also the author of Churches (2014), In a Beautiful Country (2011), and National Anthem (2008), all from Four Way books, as well as Fallen from a Chariot (Carnegie Mellon, 2005). He is co-curator of the Unsung Masters Series, a book series that brings important out-of-print writers to new readers. His next book, The Art of Fiction, is forthcoming, also from Four Way. He teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston. (updated 9/2019)