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Poet's Choice: Angel with a Pocketbook by Elizabeth Spires

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By Elizabeth Spires
Sunday, April 12, 2009

William Edmondson, a Nashville stone carver (c. 1874-1951), was the first black artist to have a solo show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, in 1937. The son of freed slaves, he said he carved by divine inspiration. By the end of his life, over 300 of his remarkable stone carvings of humans, animals and mythological and Biblical figures were in public museums and private collections. This poem is one of 23 that I wrote about his life and work.

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(Editor's note: To see this poem laid out correctly on paper or on your screen, click the Print button in the Toolbox.)

Angel with a Pocketbook (a sculpture by William Edmondson)

I never thought I'd get to heaven but I did..

I closed my eyes and died, then flew straight up

through clouds that looked like cotton candy,

clutching my pocketbook. The angel at the gate

said I wouldn't need a pocketbook in heaven,

but I held on tight and said I would.

We argued for a while and then he let me in.

Which proves that stubbornness must be a virtue...

At least sometimes.


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