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The Angels in the Engine Room

Faces puffed, steam-swollen,
hand wrench-burnt and torn—
so young these angels,
wings hang from ribs,
like creamy fungi, feathers
wet-tipped, breaking.
Slow-bent in columns,
small framed, their hollow
bones bump, pop at each heave.
Blood gathers beneath
wax-paper nails—long, silent
knees sleep in their legs.
Who instructed nimble fingered seraphs
to soothe moaning valves?
Their faces scatter like blossoms
raked and turned with soil,
their mouths too tiny
to hold a word. Having lost
their grip on the air,
they thicken the floor, clicking.
Consider their dedication,
mounting quiet,
their eyes, hot-wires, unblinking.

Paul Tyler lives in Ottawa. His book A Short History of Forgetting is published on Gaspereau Press.

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