Oct. 17, 2008

Personal Address

by Pat Schneider

Welcoming Angels

by Pat Schneider

Personal Address

To you only I speak,
although you are forever
changing names, places
of residence, appearance,
affect. Reputation.

When I was a child
you hovered in the rafters
of the tabernacle, above
the visiting evangelist's head.
My mother said I should repent,
and so I did. Of what,
I have forgotten. I was
five years old. I do remember
how the tree, under which she knelt
and prayed with me for my salvation,
bore a single peach that year:
the hard, green bud of it. How
all the summer long I watched it grow.

There was something that I asked of you
in that worn-out orchard.
Although I don't remember what it was
I asked, I do know
I took the peach for answer.

Welcoming Angels

Between the last war
and the next one,
waiting for the northbound train
that travels by the river,
I sit alone in the middle of the night
and welcome angels.
Welcome back old hymns, old songs,
all the music, the rhyme and rhythm,
welcome angels, archangels,
welcome early guesses
at the names of things,
welcome wings.

I have grown tired of disbelief.
What once was brave is boring.
Welcome back to my embrace stranger,
visitor beside the Jabbok.
Welcome wrestling until dawn,
until it is my hip thrown out of joint,
my pillow stone, my ladder
of antique assumptions.
Welcome what is not my own:
glory on the top rung, coming down.

"Personal Address" and "Welcoming Angels" by Pat Schneider from Another River: New and Selected Poems. © Amherst Writers and Artists Press, 2005. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

It's the birthday of Arthur Miller, (books by this author) born in New York City in 1915. His family was wealthy, but they lost all their money during the stock market crash, so they moved to Brooklyn and lived with the whole extended family. Arthur's uncle was a storyteller and a big liar. He became an inspiration for Arthur, who said, "His unpredictable manipulations of fact freed my mind to lope and skip among fantasies of my own." While Arthur Miller was writing his play Death of a Salesman (1949), he went to bed at night and realized that his face was wet from crying, and his throat was sore from speaking and shouting the lines of dialogue as he wrote. He said, "The theater is so endlessly fascinating because it's so accidental. It's so much like life."

It's the birthday of the novelist Wally Lamb, (books by this author) born in Norwich, Connecticut, in 1950, the author of She's Come Undone (1992).

It's the birthday of the novelist and short-story writer Deirdre McNamer, (books by this author) born in Cut Bank, Montana (1950). Her latest novel is Red Rover (2007), a story of three Montana men and their experiences in World War II.

It's the birthday of the poet Les Murray, (books by this author) born in New South Wales, Australia (1938). He said, "I love poetry for the unemployment it causes, for how it constrains one to work always beyond one's own intelligence, for its not requiring one to rise socially."

It's the birthday of the novelist Nathanael West, (books by this author) born in New York City in 1904. An advice columnist showed him letters she got from readers, and he sat down and wrote a novel, Miss Lonely Hearts (1933), about an advice columnist.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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