What the Angels Left

Marie Howe

 
At first, the scissors seemed perfectly harmless.
They lay on the kitchen table in the blue light.
Then I began to notice them all over the house,
at night in the pantry, or filling up bowls in the cellar
where there should have been apples. They appeared under rugs,
lumpy places where one would usually settle before the fire,
or suddenly shining in the sink at the bottom of soupy water.
Once, I found a pair in the garden, stuck in turned dirt
among the new bulbs, and one night, under my pillow,
I felt something like a cool long tooth and pulled them out
to lie next to me in the dark. Soon after that I began
to collect them, filling boxes, old shopping bags,
every suitcase I owned. I grew slightly uncomfortable
when company came. What if someone noticed them
when looking for forks or replacing dried dishes? I longed
to throw them out, but how could I get rid of something
that felt oddly like grace? It occurred to me finally
that I was meant to use them, and I resisted a growing compulsion
to cut my hair, although in moments of great distraction,
I thought it was my eyes they wanted, or my soft belly
—exhausted, in winter, I laid them out on the lawn.
The snow fell quite as usual, without any apparent hesitation
or discomfort. In spring, as expected, they were gone.
In their place, a slight metallic smell, and the dear muddy earth.
 
From The Good Thief. Copyright © 1988 by Marie Howe. Reprinted by permission of Persea Books, Inc., New York.

Poems by This Author

After the Movie by Marie Howe
My friend Michael and I are walking home arguing about the movie
Magdalene by Marie Howe
You know it was funny because he seemed so well the night before
Part of Eve's Discussion by Marie Howe
It was like the moment when a bird decides not to eat from your hand
The Moment by Marie Howe
Oh, the coming-out-of-nowhere moment
What the Living Do by Marie Howe
Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there


Further Reading

Poems about Objects
Tender Buttons [Objects]
by Gertrude Stein
A blurry photograph
by Martha Ronk
Amethyst Beads
by Eavan Boland
Before You Came
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
Blue Hanuman
by Joan Larkin
Compendium of Lost Objects
by Nicole Cooley
No mode of excitement is absolutely colorless
by Mónica de la Torre
Orkney Interior
by Ian Hamilton Finlay
Postcards
by E. Ethelbert Miller
Private Beach
by Jane Kenyon
The Hammers
by Jericho Brown
The Things
by Donald Hall
White Box (notes)
by Laura Mullen
Woman in Front of Poster of Herself
by Alice Notley