in this one he is standing in the hallway
illuminated by a bare bulb in the ceiling.
the bulb is casting a shadow that nearly obscures his entire face.
his hair is as white as milk
his skin the color of an old copper coin:
in the play of harsh light falling
upon his immense shoulders
the stumps where his wings were
picture #2. viet-nam, 1968
this is an intelligence photo taken the day i got to viet-nam:
it shows a crashed huey gunship and it’s bugeyed crew
who swore to a man that they’d been attacked by a gigantic bird
escaped by the skin of their teeth, they said.
one of the crew is standing next to the fuselage pointing to something
and if you follow the gesture you’ll see a feather lodged in the crumpled metal ; I know it looks like a white decal but it’s a goddam feather, trust me.
the angel shrugged when i showed him the photograph
but over the years he developed an obscure phobia towards
helicopters that defies any explaination but the obvious one.
picture #3. okinawa, 1964
my father snapped this one:
The angel is sitting on a log in a verdant green forest,
his ancient sword is stabbed into the ground
in front of him.
sunlight is dripping through the trees
and falling upon the blade of the great weapon
like bright molasses and for nearly its entire length
the sword is revealed in all it's archaic detail.
my father fought in three wars; two tours in
viet-nam alone, in bad places like pleiku and the
central highlands and other places too. he was a taciturn,
guarded man who never wept openly until he chanced to take
a picture of the angel as it rested there upon the green log,
suffused with divine power, it’s sword a sliver of frozen lightening
leaping out of the ground near it’s hand.
he is staring directly into the camera and if you look
deeply like my father did you will see the jungle
and the fiery sword and maybe even God Himself