Andĕl on Praha
We leave at night, follow down the hill of houses, cross the Vltava, and on the other side of the bridge find a mass of angels, or what appear to be a mass of angels, fallen from a great height, and in agony are heaped, quills snapped, eyes blinded, long sinewy arms reaching up for whatever has tossed them down. They’re covered in lime, drippings, in the aging of nickel and stone. It’s snowing, a wet mass, and at the axis a man, an appellant or minor statesman, dressed in a penny coat, a vest, he’s bald, and his eyes burn furiously as if in prescience, as if privy, but to what? We do not like the appellant. Then we do. Or feel like we have to. The statue in the snow and the dark and we are silent. Later, following away from the river, up another hill of houses, we shout in tongues—in lilt of being, lightness of breath. And though we return, we never see it the same. The angels, yes, still fallen. Or maybe something else falling onto them. And they do what they can, spreading out the shattered wings of their parts (marrow, appendage) in what is always, either way, the futility of defense.
My wife calls from Kona. She is sick. And immediately I see her fever as a hived, winged thing, not unlike a heart if a heart could slap either side of itself in applause or thunder or rain.
The basin had been a volcano the way words had once been animals, and my daughter goes to sleep inside her lips, the mouth of secrets, where word of her life has not yet been made into word, but breath breathing bluely on the monitor beside the bed.
Her face ghosted, a white gauze. The lens of each eye folded, closed. And I wonder when she’ll wake, stare back blackly, orbs refracted across distance unmeasured, the beginning or end to a world nobody has lived long enough to know.
My friend writes to say he is leaving and his absence . . . Well, to be honest, we’re not all that close, but still. He’s leaving and I’m staying and that says as much about my life as anything could.
My father raised me to believe in the rapture. I know how that sounds. My wife thinks it’s crazy, too. I’m not saying we’ll be yanked into space, momentarily suspended as if dropped through the floors of a gallows, or wake to find our lovers missing in a ring of ash, children taken from their beds, the good people of, say, Ohio befuddled because so many were sure they were the ones.
But like today, after my flight was canceled by weather in Chicago, and I was left to wander emptily my house, the wife and daughter away for a wedding I can’t attend because my attendance is moneyed elsewhere, the day vulgarly blue and cold like a pearl. I sat upstairs, on the daybed, watched the playoffs, then went for a jog and saw almost no one except three or four dogs leashed to people.
It’s both difficult and too easy to say. I felt forlorn upon myself, dismayed by my continued presence as if I had failed to read right the cues of the sky, the instruments on the great metaphysical barometer.
I didn’t learn anything else today except that when people disappear in Ciudad Juárez they do not return, not even as one of the dead.