Friday, January 9, 2009

Dearest Dark Angel

In Vancouver,B.C., down by the waterfront near the wharves, right on the plaza where the tourists stream steadily past - there is a larger than life statue, a memorial to all of the military men and women who have lost their lives fighting for Canada. The angel is set to soar, one arm arched high above its head, while draping an obviously dead soldier over the other. With careful attention to detail - the kind look on the angel’s face; its seeming ease in lifting the soldier, no visible strain as the angel’s feet dangle as loosely as the whole of the soldier’s limp body; the resignation of death on the young soldier’s face - the sculptor has managed to create something very special here. I find myself going back to my photographs of this tableau again and again, continually inspired to write new poems, stories, even essays. This is one.

Dearest Dark Angel

She had been searching for him everywhere, it seemed

How odd then to see him on the wing of the dark angel

Just there at the edge of the busy harbour

With gulls wheeling round and noisy, scratching the sky, he was

Set to be flown off for eternity if the angel’s stance was any indication

Her innocent brave son, dressed up like a soldier man

Blood, discernible even through the statue’s grime and blackness

In the folds of the angel’s robes, though fixed, appeared to swirl

As it dripped from the brow beneath the boy’s inadequate helmet

Almost, but not quite, hiding the lost look of desperate resignation

Set upon his baby face like an unsolved puzzle, to carry to his grave

Involuntarily, she reached out, called to the angel to stop, oh please

Halt angel of death, don’t take leave of this place with my boy just yet

For I have need of him here and have been looking all the world for him

To find him finally with you and lose him again, all in one swoop of your wings

Feels too unfair to be borne, you do see what I mean, I’m sure, angel

The angel – guide of lost souls and death, and the dead soldier child, stayed on

Gave the mother time to realize her loss afresh, study the shell that was once her son

Reconcile her grief yet again and work at letting go of her baby, her boy, her own

Transfixed, she stood as if nailed in place, regarding the tableau, until the sun left the sky

Before the moon had chanced to throw its light on the scene, she sadly wept good-bye


(published in

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