Editor’s Note: Devon Miller-Duggan is the featured poet. The poetry editor’s interview with her opens the poetry section of the Delmarva Review’s 16th edition. Her poem “In Order to Pray…” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
Author’s Note: “I’ve been married to an historian for nearly 50 years. Everyone knows the dictum that those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it. Historians are further doomed to watch while others repeat it, so they must almost always watch the parts featuring humans at their considerable worst. The poem tries to distinguish between prayer (a form of listening and of summoning) and supplication. It holds out little hope, though it insists we talk to whatever angels might listen. It features both a Biblical angel (the thousand-eyed perpetual witness) and the Morrigan’s dead-fetching crows from Irish mythology–the two mythologies that tend to dominate my imagery.”
In Order to Pray for History as It Happens, or After
You must pray for those prayers,
researching them laboriously—paper,
papyrus, parchment, stone, voices—
with footnotes and appendices.
You need too
many languages, too
many tongues speaking,
clicking, tsking, curling and uncurling while
burning like an angel’s skin.
You will mis-read “angle” and for years
thereafter, practice every angle
in which the human body can kneel,
every angle the neck can make above clasped hands
or racks of candles, burn yourself over
and over searching for the correct position
for match above wick.
The Angel of History has no interest.
Like all angels, it has no heart.
Unlike the others, it also has no ears,
no voice, no heat, no chill.
It is its own siege, its own pyre. You
must be invasion. You must beg it
not to spread its crow’s wings
over the future again. I will write for you
the only answer it knows:
There is no Angel of the Future.
Devon Miller-Duggan is the featured poet for the 16th annual Delmarva Review. She teaches poetry writing and is associate professor of creative writing at the University of Delaware. Her books include Pinning the Bird to the Wall (Tres Chicas Books), Alphabet Year (Wipf & Stock), and The Slow Salute (Lithic Press Chapbook Competition Winner, 2018). Her poems have been published in The Antioch Review, Massachusetts Review, Margie, Spillway, and Delmarva Review, among others.
Delmarva Review is a national literary journal with strong local roots in the Delmarva Peninsula. Editors cull through thousands of submissions annually to select the most compelling new poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. About half are from the Chesapeake and Delmarva region. It is available in paperback and digital editions from online booksellers and regional specialty bookstores. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, support comes from tax-deductible contributions and a grant from Talbot Arts with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council. Website: www.DelmarvaReview.org