The View From a Cafe in Ethiopia

Hailemichael, newly blind,
Heads down the street without his cane.
His youngest daughter jogs behind
And tugs him back from the roadside drain.
They turn, as though to look at you,
When a shouting merchant passes through.
He carries posters and blocks our view
With Guido Reni’s Michael.

The angel in this old icon
Trods Satan with a careless stare.
His victory is quickly won,
He has an easy, dapper air.
It’s not for me. My Michael’s hair
Would wear stipples of blood. His bare
Legs shaking in the dying glare
Of the devil’s deathly gaze.

Advertisement

The merchant wanders off. We see
The sightless walker once again.
His face is turned toward you and me.
His daughter takes him by the hand.
And a new icon appears in this
Old man named Power of Michael:
The angel ranged against hubris
Not in triumph nor in struggle,
But in dependence on the grace
Of a daughter in a shadowed space.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.

Advertisement
More: Poems / Poetry

The latest from america

Tucker Redding, S.J. guides listeners through contemplative prayer in this 10-part mini-series "Imagine: A Guide to Jesuit Prayer."
Tucker Redding, S.J.April 09, 2020
Pope Francis delivers the homily as he celebrates the Mass of Lord's Supper April 9, 2020, in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Vatican Media via Reuters)
“Today, I wish to be close to priests, to all priests, from the most recently ordained to the pope,” Pope Francis said. “Today, dear brother priests, you are all with me at the altar.”
Gerard O’ConnellApril 09, 2020
Join us throughout the Lenten season as we offer a special presentation of the Gospel, Passion and Resurrection narratives. 
Isabelle SenechalApril 09, 2020
Chinese Catholics have donated significant medical supplies to the Vatican to assist in the fight against Covid-19.
Gerard O’ConnellApril 09, 2020