Michael Shewmaker

Winter 2017

His mother must have looked away,
the reckless boy who teeters on
the railing of the balcony.

Beneath him, the congregation sings
a final hymn in a minor key.

Above, the oculus, gold leaf,
the folded wings of Gabriel.

Impossible to say what lured
him from his seat—the choir’s appeal
or the angel’s feet?
What is his name
so we might call him, safely, down—
this child who balances between

what cannot and what can be seen,
the martyrs and the marbled ground?

Michael Shewmaker is the recent winner of the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize and author of Penumbra (forthcoming from Ohio University Press). He is a Jones Lecturer in poetry at Stanford University.

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