He Dreams of Angels Flying
off the O’Connell Bridge, a short walk from
the Indian Health Services hospital.
He's having old cop-dreams again and a girl
named "Angel" is there in the 4:00 a.m.
Alaskan sunlight, floating heavy in midair,
raven hair flapping, but he catches her,
ripping his shoulder from its socket. The City
gave him a medal that gathers dust in a box.
Again, years later, he's in a rescue boat below
the same bridge; above, a young man sways
in a cloud of iced breath on suspension cables
before leaping into 35 degree water.
After the jump, he plunges in the sea himself
and clutches the boy's head, fighting against
limp wings and swims through winter's darkness;
the smell of alcohol mixes with froth
and salt spray. No medal this time—he volunteers
to pluck celestial souls escaping from the third floor
only to return them to their captive heaven.
At night he pops Advil, rubs his shoulder, while
I lie beside him listening to his breathy moans,
and I know that in dreams he will always catch
fallen angels in their hopeless attempts at flight.
I pluck the huckleberries from the branch
near the fort— now an open field at Totem Park
with one single totem pole, a reminder
of the battle between the Russians and Tlingits.
With berries in hand, my friend gives an elder’s
counsel, how we are not to eat the berries
because it’s sacred ground—blood spilled
on this earth. I think of my ignorance,
how many times I passed by this place
and remember years ago when I visited
Dachau, pondering the leafy plants beside
the fence. I speak to the earth and say,
Ch’a aadéi yei xat naay.oo—forgive me.
My hand unfolds; berries tumble to the ground.
Across the front of my pants—I try to wipe away
my red-stained palm.
Vivian Faith Prescott's poetry has appeared in Yellow Medicine Review, Drunken Boat and Turtle Quarterly. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and has received the Jason Wenger Award for Literary Excellence. She holds a Ph.D. in Cross Cultural Studies and an MFA from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. Vivian's website is http://www.vivianfaithprescott.com