I Fell Asleep at Work Today and Dreamt of Angels Climbing Stairs

I woke up suddenly; I was late.
I grabbed a yellow pad and found a pen and ran to the room with the round table.
When I took my place, half awake, a dream that had been lying under my tongue
Dissolved and streamed through me, hot and sweet like unfallen tears.
I dreamt of angels climbing stairs, Chagall angels, square footed messengers
Whose long noses and mismatched eyes I knew from mirrors other than my own.
Each held a bundle of shirts in its arms,
Tied how shirts are for the dry cleaners, a pile wrapped in the body of one,
The arms knotted, secure embrace of empty sleeves.
I slipped the line all the way up the building’s spine to the roof.
None complained even when I muscled my way past the door
To find each one step edgeward and toss a bundle away.
Sleeves gave up their knots; the sky was full of shirts.
They fluttered and fell along tar beaches, electric lines and window boxes.
They crossed one another on the hoods of cars,
They reached up for the breeze and left my sight.
Then each angel went back for more.

For two hours I felt no worry or despair.

Cortland Review, Issue 43, 2009

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