Phebe Davidson, What the Archangel Gains from His Employ

Phebe Davidson
WHAT THE ARCHANGEL GAINS FROM HIS EMPLOY

He is much moved
by impermanence, by the sheer
ephemerality of what he sees. There is,
in his continuance, a want he can’t define. Yet here,
on this small inelegant world where nothing
stands still, where whole lifetimes come and go in
the merest instant, where things in all their
infinite variation wallow and burgeon and multiply
endlessly, where his hand is in the fall of
every sparrow, where his hand is in the end of
every creature that draws breath,
he feels complete.

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12 thoughts on “Phebe Davidson, What the Archangel Gains from His Employ

    • Hi Karen–I’m late getting to this (house moving/sick cat/etc) but I am actually thrilled that you like ephemerality as much as I do.

  1. just lovely. every words has found its rightful place.

    “There is,
    in his continuance, a want he can’t define.”

    in this, we are much alike. touching poem

    • Hi Alison—I’m way behind the times this month (next month should be better), but I want you know how much I appreciate your response—Azrael is a touching character, I think, in ways that continue to surprpise me.

      Thanks for reading!

    • Hi Maren–Glad you like these!!! Now . . . if I could just find a publisher who has that response to the whole manuscript—

  2. I love the rhythm of this poem, rising and falling with the images and insights. Like a gentle ride with just a hint of danger.

  3. A very human emotion. I suspect most everyone identifies with this feeling in regards to their own “world.” Although we are part of the ephemeral, our lives at times seem so much more enduring that a great deal of what we see around us, and in the daily maintenance of our world, we frequently make decisions that bring things to an end. Only the unfeeling would not be moved by impermanence. What a wonderful poem. I feel like Azrael could be a good drinking buddy right up to the moment I was in his way or it was just my time.

  4. wonderful first line….and also love the sparrow line (i have a thing about birds in poems).

    an excellent flow to this one. fun to read aloud

    • I too have a thing for birds in poems—there are a whole slew of them in the full manuscript–which (one can only hope) will at some point see publication.

  5. A wonderful poem! Lovely flow of language, especially the opening lines. There’s so much in your poem that is great food-for-thought – I keep coming back to it, pondering. I don’t know much about Azrael, but I love the image of the Angel of Death being moved by our impermanence and ephemerality, and of having undefined wants (thus making him more human). There is almost a poignant envy to him, as you have portrayed him – and yet, his completeness lies in his hands as he holds the “end of every creature.” Wonderful!

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