And so she crushed the Lord’s angel, crushed him in her drunken bliss, crushed him in her rapture like a week-old infant, mangled him beneath her, and he came to a fatal end, and from his wings, wrapped in the sheet, pale tears flowed.
–Isaac Babel, from The Sin of Jesus
Poets think in lines, prose writers in sentences; the best of both work from sound to sense, with an ear for the music in their compositions. S for Sentence celebrates lyricism in prose, the play and craft at work in the artful sentence. We post a sentence a month along with comments by a guest writer on the craft that shapes it, on what makes it great. In one or two sentences.
—Pearl Abraham, Editor
A cascade of clauses, written in biblical-style parallelism, gives the reader a visceral sense of Arina mashing the fragile angel beneath her heavy body. The angel is “crushed," “crushed," and “crushed” again, then mangled too, before the quiet simplicity of the word “end” marks a turn from the rousing action to the intimate detail of the pale flowing tears. But a strange reverence is woven into the torrent of accusations and a reversal is enacted: Arina, a mere awkward human, is central to the action, described in bliss and rapture, while the dying angel seems almost inconsequential, a feeble, mortal thing. We might find ourselves aching for the foolishness of Arina’s loss, and questioning where, in fact, sacredness lies.
–Jericho Vincent is the author of the memoir Cut Me Loose