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Page 205

I think part of angelic duty is to spare us
themselves, keep their distance, lest they blind us
with their gaze, inflame us with wing tips.

The worst critic is the existence of what I could be,
but am not or am not yet. It is a great gift to be able
to play with children, befriend stray dogs and cats,
step among spiders without alarming them, admire
(without rising gorge) the crudest poems, resist
the fall of Lucifer, the match who ignites cloddish Adam
and Eve; Lucifer, who can't resist (in the name of sharing
knowledge) flaunting his superiority, overwhelming them
with all that they don't know.

He didn't have to leer, smirk, insinuate. It was enough
for him to be there, his brilliance (light spilling off
every scale) paling Eden. It's not that Adam knew Eve,
not the shame of sex, but that in that knowing,
he knew knowing, knew the difference between naming
("...and you are cow, you are lion, you are woman...") and
knowing (a pervasion, easily mistaken for a perversion
by one who mistakes himself for a body); knew all that he
did not know and was both stirred and abashed. And yet,

an angel is a messenger, must be among us, not in pride,
but to be visible to those who can see. There's the excuse
for writing well (otherwise a crime against mere humanity):
Those it would overwhelm can't see it. Their raves and applause
go equally to the banal and the brilliant. They can't see
well enough to be blinded. (It's like looking at the sun
with your eyes shut tight and covered by your hands.
At best you may notice -- if your pay attention to them --
that your inner eyelids have a reddish tinge -- and your face
is getting hot.)

My pages are blank to them as are others to me.
I am dangerous only to those who are ready to move on,
who force their eyes open and squint at my work and
gradually look at it as simply as, once, I looked at the sun.

Note: No, the point isn't that I'm brilliant (though obviously I tend to think I am), but that to SOME I am brilliant. I'm a sun of just the right magnitude to enlighten some, blind others (who will not suffer from me, because they won't look at me) and be a dull cinder to others. One's audience finds one. The questions raised in this poem have, at various times, given me pause: I have used my wits to overwhelm. After such excesses, I have wondered if there's any point, any humane point, to brilliance (brilliance in itself). This poem is one set of answers to that question.

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