Home > Making Sense > The Angel’s Missing Wings

The Angel’s Missing Wings

October 24, 2007

Standing at the edge of the pumped-up bed
she puts her fists into his back gently
but firmly, working the muscles.
She opposes them with deep down pushes,
waiting for the creak and scringe of ligament and bone,
feeling a way into his injury, his scarred layout.

Sounds of crackling and popping like bubble-wrap
drift with disembodied conversation.
‘When the pain eases, tell me,’ as thumbs
quest into knobbles, the central roots of a spine.
‘Yep,’ means a stronger digging in, a longer track
back to the feeling of no-pain, when the nerves

quiet to a hum lower than cars shushing by,
on the wet road outside the window. Sitting up,
he sees a chart plotting the nerves of the body,
a lattice shawled across shoulders; bright yellow
rivulets that trickle into streams threading down
the ruby, skinless torso. Even physiotherapists
like classical poses.

by Barbara Smith

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  1. October 24, 2007 at 9:09 am

    Wow. Terrific poem. Is “scringe” a real word? The only definition I can find is “cringe,” but I’m thinking you mean that little slippage when connective tissue isn’t quite as tight as it should be.

    Anyway. Wonderful. Thank you.

  2. October 24, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    Cheers Dale – glad to be in such illustrious company. ‘Scringe’ is a curious word; I first heard it used by a masseur in relation to those noises made when massaging muscular tissue that has been torn and reknitted badly – esp. in the back/shoulder region. I think it might be an Irishism.

  3. October 24, 2007 at 5:53 pm

    I have to confess I missed the word ‘scringe’ completely the first time I read this piece but I found myself drawn back to the poem which is a sign of something. I’ve read it several times now.

    That said, the last stanza wherein lies the punchline, lost me a little. And the question there is whether the problem is with the author or the reader. Being who I am I tend to take the blame upon myself; it’s a bit too easy to blame the author, we readers have our part to play too. Anyway, for whatever reason, this one doesn’t really work for me but the fact that I kept returning to it says a lot.

  4. October 30, 2007 at 3:51 pm

    Thanks for commenting Jim. You wouldn’t be the only one wondering about that last stanza.

  5. November 13, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    I loved it, root and branch.

  6. November 14, 2008 at 3:39 am

    Cheers Dick, lovely to see you back!

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