A Refuge of Wings

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For the children of Syria (R. W. Emerson, “It is in rugged crises, in unbearable endurance, and in aims which put sympathy our of the question, that the angel is shown.”)

While Damascus burns her Angel waits.

We watch, the Angel and I,

as that wandering curse, that anger so old, returns

again, again, again

from before time began.

We watch it writhe along the valley floor

moving toward the city

burning all it touches

a lost, hungry, whining thing, it rolls down from the smoking, dark hills.


Desolation passes from fathers to their children.

The mothers weep. A millennium of tears.

They watch their children run on their own tiny feet.

How long will they cry?

Sorrow soaks their marrow.


it will not let them go.

We wait, the Angel and I. Watching.

The children run toward us.

Our tears reach for them.

While Damascus burns her Angel lifts them up: These human children.

Her wings

enfold their tiny bodies.

My hands reach for them.

We gather these little ones.

The wings of the Angel beat and rise.

Leaving behind all that is heavy.

They will rest. Again.

Inside their infant skins they will remain

for now. Un-marked. Warm.

Darlene Witte
Darlene Witte

Professor of Education, (retired) at Johnson State College in Vermont leads the Green Mountain Writers' Poetry & Performance workshop that meets on Zoom each month on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays at 7 PM ET. Find out more at https://www.meetup.com/green-mountain-writers

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