“Dilemmas of the Angels: Extraterrestrial” by David Romtvedt

David Romtvedt


The aliens land and at first she’s scared.
Has her Lord been keeping secrets?
Another wife and kids in a faraway galaxy?
It would be tempting. Imagine saying,
“Let there be light.” And, poof, there’s light.
The magic word is any word you want it to be—
bucket, for example, or asphalt, and into the world
tumble jet planes, hair dryers, and vegetarian restaurants.
The Mayans say God made human beings from mud 
but when it rained they washed away and he had 
to start over. So maybe we’re the other family.
Now the aliens are stepping out of their ship
which looks like a giant corncob painted blue.
That’s a nice detail, she thinks—that blue.
Could be these people created themselves. 
Certainly our Lord didn’t attend so to detail.
Here it was light, dark, firmament, seas, 
vault of heaven—all pretty vague. It wasn’t 
even clear whether angels have sexual organs. 
Take that Cole Porter song—“Birds do it, bees 
do it, even educated fleas do it.” What about angels?
The problem is 
there is no one
before whom the Lord 
can bow his head
and be born again.
The aliens take off their shoes and socks 
before walking barefoot across the lawn.
There’s something appealing about them—
those smiles. They’re taking off their clothes, 
space suits really, and lying down on the grass. 
They’re wrapping their arms and legs around each other.
They’re doing what is done to create a new being.
“Hey,” she shouts, not that she’s a prude 
but she’s been in the garden before 
and knows that the sprinklers come on
at dusk, which it almost is. And what if, under 
the screen of water, they are washed away?

from Rattle #42, Winter 2013

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David Romtvedt: “I’m a musician and poet. Language, meaning, and rhythm drive me in both forms—I write poems that don’t have regular meter but I’m always thinking about how the poems move when spoken. I write party dance music that is metrically very regular but I’m always thinking about using language in ways that will break free of the meter a little. My big quest now is to learn Basque, a language of great beauty that is very unlike other European languages.”

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