Skip to content

Log Out



He was the angel Gabriel
whose horn could transmute breath
into beauty. I had heard of men like these, their fingers
striking the valves to yield the word of God.

No. Wait. Whose horn could blunt breath
into blinded sight? At what speed does a human hand,
striking valves, the word of God yielding,
collapse strands of light?

Into blinded sight. At any speed a human hand
takes. Confession: I half-let a rapist touch my birth canal.
To collapse into a cord of light—
but I couldn’t accelerate beyond matter.

Take my profession: half a no is ineffective
as flesh fumbling back into denim shorts.
Never accelerating beyond matter,
I was as material as any live thing, stuck

in fumbling flesh. Lest I lose my value
as vessel, maintaining form, I halved myself
to hear the scything bellow of glory-struck matériel. Brass of
terror-gnawed tongue—let me begin this one

again. A simple circumstance: how a horned vessel blows, how
I split to give way to fingers, give form
to need. Like any child, I cried after, terror on my tongue.
Back in the beginning, did I say the hand was human? I’m

sorry. I slipt, silence giving way. The hand taking, the
taking away, was older than time. Remember I was
ribbed. Wracked, half—–—a man, I listened. Let me begin again:
He was the angel, Gabriel, messenger of God.



Hannah Matheson is an MFA candidate in poetry at New York University, where she is assistant poetry editor of Washington Square Review. She has poems in Four Way Review, Adroit Journal, Pigeon Pages, Solar, Honey Lit, Best New Poets, and elsewhere. She currently works as publicist and editor at Four Way Books.




Image depends on its subscribers and supporters. Join the conversation and make a contribution today.

+ Click here to make a donation.

+ Click here to subscribe to Image.

The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Receive ImageUpdate, our free weekly newsletter featuring the best from Image and the world of arts & faith

* indicates required