Grief Calls Us to the Things of This World

By Sherman Alexie b. 1966 Sherman Alexie

The morning air is all awash with angels
—Richard Wilbur, “Love Calls Us to the Things of This World”


The eyes open to a blue telephone
In the bathroom of this five-star hotel.

I wonder whom I should call? A plumber,
Proctologist, urologist, or priest?

Who is blessed among us and most deserves
The first call? I choose my father because

He’s astounded by bathroom telephones.
I dial home. My mother answers. “Hey, Ma,”

I say, “Can I talk to Poppa?” She gasps,
And then I remember that my father

Has been dead for nearly a year. “Shit, Mom,”
I say. “I forgot he’s dead. I’m sorry—

How did I forget?” “It’s okay,” she says.
“I made him a cup of instant coffee

This morning and left it on the table—
Like I have for, what, twenty-seven years—

And I didn’t realize my mistake
Until this afternoon.” My mother laughs

At the angels who wait for us to pause
During the most ordinary of days

And sing our praise to forgetfulness
Before they slap our souls with their cold wings.

Those angels burden and unbalance us.
Those fucking angels ride us piggyback.

Those angels, forever falling, snare us
And haul us, prey and praying, into dust.

Sherman Alexie, “Grief Calls Us to the Things of This World” from Face. Copyright © 2009 by Sherman Alexie. Reprinted by permission of Hanging Loose Press.

Source: Face (Hanging Loose Press, 2007)

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Poet Sherman Alexie b. 1966

Subjects Living, Death, Sorrow & Grieving, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Religion

 Sherman  Alexie

Biography

Sherman Alexie is a preeminent Native American poet, novelist, performer and filmmaker. He has garnered high praise for his poems and short stories of contemporary Native American reservation life, among them The Business of Fancydancing (1992), The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven (1993), which won a PEN/Hemingway Award, and Smoke Signals (1998), a critically acclaimed movie based on one of Alexie’s short stories and . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death, Sorrow & Grieving, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Religion

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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