The Hastily Assembled Angel on Embodiment

(being a recapitulation of the “Fresh Eyes for a Fresh World” sections of Sometimes I Never Suffered)

The hastily assembled angel’s sure he never
Before he had a body had a body
How could he have….. though he….. thinks he remembers
Watching the other angels build him from above the

Parts they were hammering together were
Folding together stapling….. together paper-
clipping together nobody….. yet living where
Staples and paperclips would come from paper

To fold….. but hammers always were and things
To strike bodies….. to strike except for his
Which he’s sure….. could not have been
Before it was….. but he recalls an eminence

As if he once had been a spotlight’s beam
Shining from somewhere in a medium-sized
City….. untraceable and from
Which the place takes its mystery….. to whom does

The spotlight call….. and from where does it call
And does the pillar of light emanate
From the shadowy machine beaming….. from tall
Grass or a parking lot….. amidst low-mileage late-

Model used cars….. or does the pillar of
Light emanate instead from the heaven
It brightens and does not explain….. the oth-
er angels when they built him

Built him so hurriedly he never had the
Chance to ask them questions….. not
Good questions not….. the questions anybody
Might as they watched their body built beneath them….. ask like What

Is happening he….. thinks he might have asked
Like Help….. he thinks he might have asked Why am I
So high why can’t I kneel and make
With you whatever you’re….. making the hastily assembled

Angel is sure….. he saw the tops of the other an-
gel’s heads before he saw their bodies
Before he saw their hands
Shaking like the hands of humans when….. humans are pleading

Though at the time he knew
Nothing he could compare the shaking to

Shane McCrae

Shane McCrae

Shane McCrae’s most recent books are Sometimes I Never Suffered, shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize, and The Gilded Auction Block, both published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Later this year, the Cleveland State University Poetry Center will release an expanded edition of his first book, Mule, with an introduction by Victoria Chang. McCrae has received a Lannan Literary Award, a Whiting Writer’s Award, an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. He lives in New York City and teaches at Columbia University.
Shane McCrae

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Author: Shane McCrae

Shane McCrae’s most recent books are Sometimes I Never Suffered, shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize, and The Gilded Auction Block, both published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Later this year, the Cleveland State University Poetry Center will release an expanded edition of his first book, Mule, with an introduction by Victoria Chang. McCrae has received a Lannan Literary Award, a Whiting Writer’s Award, an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. He lives in New York City and teaches at Columbia University.