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Three angels

October 15, 2017

 Photo by Alix Lucas


Here we begin again. Coming back to a project, giving it new breath and seeing where it will take us this time.  


Somewhere, Maybe Here: a piece and a fallen angel very close to my heart.


Reading Adam Zagajewski - my constant companion on this particular journey.

"The world is the same as it always was,
full of shadows and anticipation."


And so is this piece, and this city tonight, and this life. 


Three Angels


Suddenly three angels appeared
right here by the bakery on St George Street.
Not another census bureau survey,
one tired man sighed.
No, the first angel said patiently,
we just wanted to see
what your lives have become,
the flavour of your days and why
your nights are marked by restlessness and fear.


That's right, fear, a lovely, dreamy-eyed
woman replied; but I know why.
The labours of the human mind have faltered.
They seek help and support
they can't find. Sir, just take a look
- she called the angel 'Sir'! - 
at Wittgenstein. Our sages
and leaders are melancholy madmen
and know even less than us
ordinary people (but she wasn't

Then too, said one boy
who was learning to play the violin, evenings
are just an empty carton,
a casket minus mysteries,
while at dawn the cosmos seems as
parched and foreign as a TV screen.
And besides, those who love music for itself
are few and far between.

Others spoke up and their laments
surged into a swelling sonata of wrath.
If you gentlemen want to know the truth,
one tall student yelled - he'd
just lost his mother - we've had enough
of death and cruelty, persecution, disease,
and long spells of boredom still
as a serpent's eye. We've got too little earth
and too much fire. We don't know who we are.
We're lost in the forest, and black stars
move lazily above us as if
they were only our dream.


But still, the second angel mumbled shyly,
there's always a little joy, and even beauty
lies close at hand, beneath the bark
of every hour, in the quiet heart of concentration,
and another person hides in each of us - 
universal, strong, invincible.
Wild roses sometimes hold the scent
of childhood, and on holidays young girls
go out walking just as they always have,
and there's something timeless
in the way they wind their scarves.
Memory lives in the ocean, in galloping blood,
in black, burnt stones, in poems,
and in every quiet conversation.
The world is the same as it always was,
full of shadows and anticipation.


He would have gone on talking, but the crowd
was growing larger and waves
of mute rage spread
until at last the envoys rose lightly
into the air, whence, growing distant,
they gently repeated: peace be unto you,
peace to the living, the end, the unborn.
The third angel alone said nothing,
for that was the angel of long silence.


- Adam Zagajewski

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