Three angels


Image by Alix Lucas

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 ordinary).

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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