Angels grasp eternity.
Always causes mortals trouble
as they scrabble at the absence
of an afterwards
or disbelieve before has been
emptied of its meaning.
Angels get on best with shepherds.
Spending nights on hard-faced hillsides
under starred enormity,
prepares them, more than most,
to be at peace with vast
and heaven-scented wonder.
Angels trust their messages to shepherds
whose trade’s persuaded them they’ll find
whatever they go looking for –
even when it’s wandered off,
managing to lose itself
along some dead-end path.
Angels come infrequently.
Shepherds stay around: they keep on
pushing through the crowds and telling
what they’ve seen to stretch more minds
around the shape that always makes
when crosswise-intersecting now.
Michael Bartholomew-Biggs is a retired mathematician but remains active as poetry editor for London Grip. He is also co-organiser of the reading series Poetry in the Crypt. His latest collection is an 'evolution myth' - Pictures from a Postponed Exhibition (Lapwing, 2014) based on paintings by the Australian artist David Walsh.