“Angel of Death,” woodcut on paper, Leonard Baskin
He cuts the feathers that are the shoulders of the angel of death,
the mouth that is the closed cave of the angel of death,
the nostrils that are the oubliettes
stuffed with black air that has our scent.
The angel of death has our torso.
He greets evil black to black wherever it has torn us,
shouldering in wherever flesh lies.
No shock for us behind that closed door:
the uncowering artist has stared him down,
exposing the jet hand that is the shadow
of the cock of the angel of death, showing us
how those feathers have taken the veins of our lungs
and filled themselves with our air.
At our threshold the fierce, naked,
blessed artist imprints himself, making mortal
those square cheeks, those netted balls,
that white throat, those thighs.
He is our agent. The angel's eyes roll back.