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Elsewhere Angels


Image by MChe Lee

Bereft of a divine messenger? There are plenty

           of angels in the sea. The flashiest are the Red Sea

                    angelfish, with their fluorescent blues, yellows,


and purples, their wavy stripes and brightly hued

          swatches. They don’t just swim in fluid—they are fluid,

                    changing from female to male. The cutest are the sea


angels, like red-faced babies in translucent onesies.

         The most terrifying are the angel sharks, which lie

                    in wait flattened to the ocean floor, then lunge at passing


prey, swallowing whole the unsuspecting drifter.

          The most heroic live free of the sea, residing, rather,

                    in caverns dark as the ocean deep. The cave angel fish,


profoundly pink as a new scar, with two sets of white

           transparent wings, daredevils all, climb waterfalls

                     despite having no eyes and being but an inch long.


There is something of the divine in each of them. In the Sea

            of Me, though, something less angelic lurks—no wings,

                     no halos, just claws that have gripped me again—a common


creature known in Latin as cancer. But my avenging angels

            stand ready, armed with an arsenal of claw-crushing cytotoxins,

                     their wings, it seems, cloaked in white coats and sea-green scrubs.

Yvonne Zipter is the author of the poetry collections The Wordless Lullaby of Crickets, Kissing the Long Face of the Greyhound, The Patience of Metal (a Lambda Literary Award Finalist), and Like Some Bookie God. Her published poems are currently being sold individually in two vending machines in Chicago to raise money for the nonprofit organization Arts Alive Chicago. She is also the author of the historical novel Infraction and the nonfiction books Diamonds Are a Dyke’s Best Friend and Ransacking the Closet. She is retired from the University of Chicago Press, where she was a manuscript editor.

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