(For Alva Steffler)

Last Christmastide the angel came at six fifteen. While volunteers began to poke the guests awake, collect the mats, and fix the coffee for the breakfast line, the smoke rose from first cigarettes, and one large man groaned off the floor, breath harsh, a map of beet- red lines high on his cheeks”he strains but can not bend enough to reach his feet.

The angel teaches art design, his hair is gray, he’s fifty odd. Straightway he goes down on his knees, does not recoil from hot dry skin, begins to tug one of a pair of stained white socks around those death-puffed toes and nonchalantly smiles and says “fear not.”