Clay Matthews


When it Comes to Wings

It was sweet gum or sycamore,
and Zacchaeus was home having tea.
When on the day Johnny climbed the tree,
there wasn’t a lord to be seen.

Miles away, with a gag and a gulp,
a mountain swallowed a dirt road.
Riding that way with no hands
on a tricycle was Aunt Dilsey,
one small hand ringing a bell,
the other holding a candle.

If it weren’t for the red-checked apron
that held to her small frame like dust,
she could have been braided hair and bones.
But Johnny didn’t see this far.

Maybe somewhere an angel gets its wings,
pulled out of linen drawer the size of Texas.
Ring, ring—and the feathers smell of cattle,
such a long line in which to wait,
such a task to be told to fly.