Do Angels Eat?
After Albrecht Dürer, 'Melencolia', 1514, engraving

I come down in the morning after a stormy, sleepless night and here’s this angel flopped in my garden like García Márquez’s old angel with enormous wings but this angel is female and she’s not old and she’s sitting on the little plinth I was going to put a potted plant on, she’s sitting there with a hang-dog look, not dejected really, more of a faraway, contemplative expression as if deep in thought. She doesn’t look very happy but maybe happiness has nothing to do with it, maybe yearning, nostalgia, regret, an angelic anguish, she’s just down, she’s certainly down, ha ha, but I don’t feel like laughing. I ask her if she’d like a cup of tea, would you like a cup of tea? I feel like an idiot, how would you feel asking an angel if she’d like a cup of tea, do angels eat? It’s said they like manna but I haven’t got any, don’t even know what it is, have no idea where to buy it. Her wings seem too heavy for her, they’re certainly large, their tips are trailing on the ground. She ignores me, she sits there looking rather miserable, how would you look if your wings suddenly got too heavy and you had to make a forced landing in a tiny town garden? She has that blowsy, windblown look. I say, can I help you? – the kind of question you’d ask an intruder so as not to alarm him, not, what the hell are you doing here, and then the bar comes out, the lunge. She acts as if she doesn’t hear me, she’s somewhere else, far away, she’s inside her head, she includes me out. I’m not part of her world, angels don’t run in the family. Can I help you, I ask again, gently. Please say something I say, trying not to sound testy. It’s as if I’m speaking another language entirely, no, as if I haven’t spoken at all. What am I to do? Call the police? The council? How can they help? Take her away? Where? Where does she belong? She doesn’t belong to me, does she. She just happens to be in my garden, sitting there dejectedly, well, not dejectedly, just subdued, compelled by something irreconcilable, overcome by something. Is she sorrowing for our suffering? Maybe she’s working out the alchemy of probabilities. I know: she’s trying to figure how to fly out. It seems an impossibility, she’s like a swan in a very small pond, not enough run for lift-off. She’s bound to stay here forever, until…do angels ever die? What will I do with her? If she’s here day and night how will I cope? Why has she disturbed my life? How do I reconcile myself to her not answering, not speaking, ignoring me, how do I accept her perched upon the little plinth as though she’s perched upon my soul?

In Envoi 154, October 2009.

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