Angels Among Us

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Here’s a poem for your Friday. Remember to see what is beneath the ordinary.

The Jewel, by Richard Jones

I like this moment when there is nothing

more I need to do,

when I have emptied

everything on the counter–

eggs, bread, apples and some chocolate

I will give my children after homework–

and I am free to study

the checkout lady’s red face

ever so slightly gasping for air,

the quick hands of the teenaged boy

distractedly bagging groceries,

and the lady behind me so tiny

she stands on tiptoes to empty her cart.

I have all the time in the world

to open my wallet and count bills

for the Salvation Army bell ringer

standing outside the automatic glass doors

in the dark and falling snow,

time even to survey the sad

faces on the magazines

and read the headlines and confessions

and forgive each star by name.

But when everything has been counted

and bagged, the bill calculated

and the receipt handed to me,

I’ve forgotten where I am and what I’m doing,

so determined am I to see the angels

William Blake tells me

stand among us,

cherubim lingering by the illuminated

bins of produce,

seraphim protecting the fish sticks

in the frozen food section.

The cashier is saying “Sir? Sir?”

but now I am seeking to pierce the veil

that separates us from the saints in heaven.

Gazing out over the rows of shoppers

waiting in lines with their carts,

and now holding up everyone in line behind me,

I am squinting to find my father, who loved fish sticks,

to see him in his appointed place

among the multitudes of angels and saints,

the heavenly choirs

I can almost hear

singing to me.

Image by D. Sharon Pruitt. Sourced via Flickr.