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I Saw Her Halo First

I saw her halo first
Now Mamma told me ‘bout angels
And how they fly away on the stars
And sky
And sun
And that they protect us,
Just like little Baby Jesus did when he was born
On Christmas.
And she told me that I have one that’s guarding me always.
Imagine that!
Just for me,
An angel,
A whole
Angel
Just for me.
But Mamma never told me what my angel
Looked like.
So I kept looking for her.
I thought she’d be beautiful
With curly red hair
And freckles on her nose
But with a glowing halo
Sitting just so
Above her head
And perfect wings
Folded out to either side
To carry me home in.
Well I’d never seen a halo before,
But I swear,
That night, I saw her halo first.
The road was a ribbon of pure black
Across the cold winter’s bleak landscape.
Mist swirled just so
Above the road
To hide anything that wanted to hide,
Like squirrels,
Or litter,
Or ice.
I saw her halo first,
As it rose up
Closer
Closer
Out from behind the car before us.
My mouth made a little O.
My angel was coming for me.
I saw her halo was big,
Bigger
Too big.
And she had a great glowing eye in the middle
Golden glowing,
Beautiful.
And then two,
Bigger and bigger grew her golden eyes,
Brighter and brighter grew the glassy road,
As closer and closer she came for me.
Just for me.
My angel loved me.
Her halo disappeared,
Leaving two golden eyes
Floating in the dark
Heading for us
At seventy miles per hour.
Two beautiful eyes.
And then, my angel came for me.

I watched as they put Mamma in the ground
Wearing that pretty blue dress,
The one with the flowers on it,
That she wore to church on Sunday.
But she looked better in green.
And then they put dirt on her,
And I just couldn’t find my angel anywhere.
She wasn’t there to say “it’s gonna be okay.”
There wasn’t anyone to hold me or say “I love you. You are the best son I have.”
Because that was Mamma’s job.
But now, Mamma was gone.
My angel had taken her.
My angel was supposed to protect me,
But she took my Mamma.
She took her away from me.
And my angel wasn’t anywhere near when I was
Crying
Alone
In my room.
And when my Dad was broken,
The angel didn’t comfort him either,
Or I guess so,
Because he cried so much that I feared I would drown in his sorrow.

A couple of years passed, and I grew hard
Strong
Tough.
I didn’t need my angel to survive.
I could do that on my own.
I could do that all on my own.
Because my friends, they had my back.
And they would laugh at what I did sometimes,
And I would laugh at what they did.
And we weren’t related or anything,
But we were brothers all the same.
And one time my brother told me
“That man took my money.”
He was old, and had a carved wooden cane,
The top was a cougar head.
And I couldn’t imagine him hurting anybody anyhow.
But my brother told me that,
And he kept telling me,
And telling me to take it back,
That that’s what brothers did for brothers.
And it is.
Right?

When the police came to find me,
I was crying,
Alone
In a cardboard box in the alley
Where the old man had died,
With his cougar headed cane
Draped across my knees.
And they took me away.
And I didn’t care.

Lying all alone in the cold
Hard
Bed they gave me there,
Crying for the old man
Who hadn’t deserved to die.
And crying for my brothers,
Who would never get caught,
And crying for my Dad,
Who didn’t know yet,
And crying for my Mamma,
Who was surely looking down at me from Heaven,
Shaking her head and saying
“Why, my son?”
And I was so stupid!
Scum.
That’s what I was.
Nothing else. Just
Scum.
And it felt like it wouldn’t matter if I lived
Or died
Or anything.
Because all I’d ever done was cause people pain,
And all I’d ever do is cause people pain
Until I died,
And that would be the end of that.
But right then, I did something
I never thought to do,
Said some words,
I never thought to say.
Maybe they were too obvious,
And they weren’t enough,
But I guess it was a start.
“I’m sorry, Mamma.”
She was dressed in glowing white
And blue
With a glowing ring around her head,
Her eyes gentle and kind.
And I asked her who she was,
And she said that she was my Mamma.
And I said that she wasn’t my Mamma,
That my Mamma was dead now,
And unless I saw her,
She would always be dead,
And I would always be
Scum.
And the lady nodded,
And a bright light appeared next to her,
As if called by my words,
Thoughts,
Actions.
And she was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen,
And she said the most beautiful words I’d ever heard,
“I forgive you, Son.”
But I saw her halo first.





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