Two Angels

James May

BPR 40 | 2013

Winner of the 2013 Collins Prize

"Jim, you are searching for angels but, alas, not very good at finding them."
— Adam Zagajewski, in conversation

But they found me once, two of them.
Both were impeccably dressed in gray
sharkskin suits. It was late, in my basement.
It is very important, the first one said

(hand on my shoulder, pinching it slightly
the way my brother sometimes does to remind me
of some decades-old ass-kicking),
extremely important that you. . . . He

set his glass down, went to the dart board,
retrieved the darts he'd thrown,
and handed them to me. I was tired,
losing terribly. Important that you — Wait,

the second angel interrupted, ask him
if he's happy. Yes, gentlemen, I am happy,
I blurted out. They looked at each other,
then asked for some proof. Well, I am

in love, I said. But they pointed out
that doesn't cause happiness. Often results
in quite the opposite, the second one said.
I threw a dart. I have two dogs,

I have known few tragedies, encountered
few deaths. Both rolled their eyes,
but I continued. I love music. And October,
its moments of benign forgetting, when sometimes

I walk outside into the evenings to thank
your kind employer. Snickering angels
sound like snickering men. I threw the second dart,
perhaps too hard. And at that, they said they were not

there for my impatience. Both rose,
collected their hats and vanished, leaving me
embarrassed and still holding the last dart,
aiming at something only luck could help me hit.