Letter to a Fallen Angel

A poem


It’s you I think of, Cassiel,

as I look down from the 25th floor

in my white hotel bathrobe,

feet resting on the window,

listening to Casals, who has to be

your brother-angel — fallen

to earth with his cello.


Below, my city’s a reef:

calcified light towers,

red train tracks that undulate,

white amoebas that pulse along the expressway

to the dark water’s edge.


From the Brandenburg Gate, you looked down

so tenderly on Berlin’s black tide. Exalted,

you angels testify to all that’s spiritual

in human hearts. No wonder it gets tedious:

Remember, Cassiel, how you reported

that the subway conductor had suddenly

shouted “Tierra del Fuego”?


Were you yearning for a fall? Who knows?

Yet this moment, sad angel,

I long for your wings:

I remove the white robe, dress,

go listen for the soft ding of the elevator:


the sound of ascent, descent