Angel’s Task: Poems in Biblical Time
Laurie Patton’s “Poems in Biblical Time” give contemplative voice to the reading cycle of the Jewish year. Replete with ancient imagery coming alive in the language of the present, each poem weaves scripture into everyday life while refocusing a single Biblical moment. In her vision here, angels are also messengers “sent to earth with a single piece of work to accomplish.” Although we are of “so many minds” burdened with “so many tasks,” as readers we again receive messengers and the messages they bring. Recognition may come in the angelic voice, and we can meet angels and ourselves at “the tent door in the heat of the day.” Angel’s Task urges continuous awe—or “trembling.”
Angel’s Task opens Torah for us in the most beautiful and resonant way. Each poem is a gem that lets us see more deeply into a biblical text and into ourselves. Quietly, quietly, the poems reach into our “ancient brain,” touching the soul.
—Alicia Ostriker, author of The Book of Seventy,
winner of the 2009 Jewish Book Award for Poetry
What a beautiful notion Patton gives us, the illumination manifest in our own actions: “these are the lights / that hold / our backward, earthly glances / as we turn our eyes / toward heaven.”
—Natasha Trethewey, author of Native Guard, winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize
Angel’s Task accomplishes one of poetry’s most important tasks: to speak in a way that awakens a reader to see more clearly the complexities of her own heart and mind and the challenges and predicaments of our contemporary moment. That’s the miracle of Angel’s Task.
—Richard Chess, author of Tekiah, The Chair in the Desert, and The Third Temple