BRING NOW THE ANGELS by Dilruba Ahmed
To test your pulse as you sleep.
Bring the healer the howler the listening ear—
Bring an apothecary to mix the tincture—
We need the salve
the tablet the capsule
of the hour— Bring sword-eaters
and those who will swallow fire—
Fetch the guardian
to flatten the wheelchair,
to hoist it toward heaven:
the public shuttle awaits
the ceaseless trips to the clinic.
To the bedside manner
summon witness: this medic’s
disdain toward patients the physician’s dismissal
And call the druggist, again, to drug us senseless—
Bring a nomad to index our debts
tuck each invoice into broken walls
of regret— Call the cleric the clerk
the messengers divine—
Summon someone collect the prayers buried
or burnt tied to stones sunk in seas
dunked underwater until all dissolves
The tickets rustle in a hat, the carnival music slows
A lottery ball spins, the carousel stops, the candy machine spins gold
Bring now the scribe. Let it be written:
There is no shepherd, no Sherpa, no moonlight guide
for these, the darkest journeys of our lives.
Who will lift the shuttle above the outposts of the living?
Who will watch it rise and rise?
Who will clear a path among all the wreckage?
Who will weave a nest for all the birds of passage?
Who will bridge the gap between savage and salvage?
Who will sing
over wilting stalks, rough husks, silk
like hair in a dream?