An old angel takes his wine at a table
in a wood, drinking from an earthen
jar that never empties. Pine needles
weave a net around, catching schools

of light that swim through frozen
branches. He studies a spangle
as if searching for its name and rubs
the jagged scars burned across his face.

Pine cones fall. Branches rattle. He mutters:
Only fish philosophise the ice away.”
Across the fields gaunt cows
lower to the skies.

Another angel, of suppler eye and wing,
sits atop a hill beneath a plum tree,
an urn of ashes in his lap. “Silent form,”
he says, “I will not say thou to you.

I should not say you.” He pours out
ashes at his feet. A sparrow darts through
dissolving clouds. He asks, “Do I deserve you?
I have been these stones. I have been that bird.

I have been a reed beside the winter river.
But I have never been the brightening
melody.” He picks about the gravel,
draws a white tongue across his teeth.

“I am thousands. Then I will take the name
of no tone—I will be the greater gray.”