Iowa Writes

KEITH RATZLAFF
Crying Angel


after Paul Klee

Nothing prepared me for heaven. 
Its scaffolds—street after street—
halls leading to halls,
rooms papered with distance

as if heaven were only perspective,
a vanishing point drawing us
until we vanished. And if
I am crying, it's for small things: 

staplers, bowls, gloves, spoons
on their pedestals, their ideal forms
lost at the vanishing ends of corridors—
for Music in its winged box,

Math’s fulcrum and see-saw,
Geography's colored pins, its there, there.

after Paul Klee

Nothing prepared me for heaven. 
Its scaffolds—street after street—
halls leading to halls,
rooms papered with distance

as if heaven were only perspective,
a vanishing point drawing us
until we vanished. And if
I am crying, it's for small things: 

staplers, bowls, gloves, spoons
on their pedestals, their ideal forms
lost at the vanishing ends of corridors—
for Music in its winged box,

Math’s fulcrum and see-saw,
Geography's colored pins, its there, there.

How did we ever come to think
the single world was precious,
the model for us to love—
one town, one house, one sky,

one woman, the mole on her back—
when it is the universe, its gaps, 
the mileage between its outposts
God loves and is his image?

They weren't lies after all, the stories
where we are transmuted into stars
or into water lost in the infinity
of itself. Who could have imagined

God's need for distance,
this hurling us away to be near him?


from Dubious Angels:  Poems after Paul Klee (Anhinga Press, 2005)

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


KEITH RATZLAFF

Keith Ratzlaff’s books of poetry are Dubious Angels:  Poems after Paul Klee;  Man Under A Pear Tree; and Across The Known World. His awards include the Anhinga Prize for Poetry, the Theodore Roethke Award, and a Pushcart Prize. He teaches writing and literature at Central College in Pella, Iowa.

This page was first displayed
on March 08, 2007

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