The Hastily Assembled Angel on Care and Vitality

Shane McCrae


The hastily assembled angel watches

From the air he watches    from that point in the air

Where years from now the apex of the pyra-

mid he is watching being    built will be

Invisibly   he watches as slaves roll

Huge stones from the quarry to the pyramid the

Slave who invented   the method for moving

The stones is dead   the stones   that were too big

For human beings to move   the angel saw

The slave was killed for   attempting to correct

The implementation of his method   which

The Egyptian engineers had not at first

Completely understood   though even as

His dark blood made the dirt beside them dark

They saw the first board buckle   beneath the weight

Of the first stone   fortunately the slave had

Explained his method often to his fellow

Slaves   and they could when they were ordered to

Silently make it work the angel sees the

Slaves serve their masters most   efficiently

When they aren’t talking to each other   but

They serve their masters most   quickly just after

They have devised a plan to kill their masters

Shane McCrae’s most recent books are The Gilded Auction Block: Poems and Sometimes I Never Suffered. He has received a Whiting Writer’s Award, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Lannan Literary Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Image: Pair of Clappers, ca. 1353–1336 B.C., Hippopotamus ivory. From the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.