Alzheimer’s Poetry Project: Definition of Angel

The poets of Pacifica Assisted Living Center in Santa Fe New Mexico and poet Joanne Dwyer created definition of Angel on November 20th, 2013. Model poems that were used in the session include: “In beauty may I walk,” Navajo – translated by Jerome K Rothenberg; “A List of Praises,” Anne Porter (Abridged); “Perhaps the World Ends Here,” Joy Harjo; “Te Deum,” Charles Reznikoff and “The Waking,” Theodore Roethke

Dwyer write about the sessions, “The theme of the session (because of Thanksgiving approaching) was gratitude and appreciation. The last two lines of the poem “A List of Praises,” are:

And with this poem, a leaf on the vast flood,
And with the angels in that other country.

Which led me to ask the residents their definition of angel and hence came an unexpected poem, not just about gratitude, but angels. And the beautiful story that Wilbur shared from WWII. Wilbur, who at first, did not want to stay for poetry…”

Definition of Angel

A dark woman in a white cloud
wearing beautiful clothes.

White cloud with her floating around.
I wouldn’t know what to say to her.

Angels are little children.

Angel = heaven.

I have met the equivalent on earth many times.

I had an experience with angels in Israel.
My parents had died.
Things needed to be done, that I could not do.
Two weeks without food.
Suddenly a very tall, but young woman –
she wasn’t quite like we are.
She radiated love.
“Where are you going, my little one”, she asked.
“I am trying to get back to my father”, I replied.

An angel is an angel.

There are many angelic people in the world
who are not self-serving.

A being that is beautiful and angelic.

I don’t know how many years ago,
in the war in the Pacific,
in the marine corps,
going from island to island
chasing the Japanese off…
Well, angels, I talked with –
maybe it was with angels.
I said, please spare me
and it helped.

Info on Joanne Dwyer

You may read Dwyer’s work on the Poetry Foundation website. For info on her book, Belle Laide published by Sarabande Books

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