the stone angel

by richibi

these earlier “back tracks”, of which the following is one example, are pieces I consider still to be worth your while

please enjoy

__________________

for Greg, its champion

the stone angel:

miracles are of course in the eye of the beholder, like beauty, truth, and love

I remember being told by my mother about the wife of a cousin of my father, she was notoriously unattractive, indeed downright ugly, everyone said, her daughter later worked for my father in our family’s store, she was cheerful, industrious, and eager to be working there, one day when her mom came in her daughter called out to her mom as she entered, hi beautiful and altered forever my conception of beauty

miracles are also such entities, they happen in the heart and in the soul, without these there are merely serendipitous circumstances bereft of either reason or wile

but to the wide-eyed innocent still dazzled by the glory of a sunrise, the splendour of a sunset, the iridescent grace and beauty of a shimmering rainbow stretching its improbable arc across a sun-strewn sky, hot on the heels of routed clouds and blustering but receding thunder, miracles are a sign of heaven, the consequence, the stardust, of faith

we’d been headed out to dinner after a day of taking in Buenos Aires, making our way along one of its more popular streets, Avenida Florida is closed to traffic but teems with the to and fro of shoppers, tourists, merchants, and of course minstrels, entertainers, we’d seen a pair of men dancing the tango together for coins, each in a formal though somewhat worn-out black suit, young novices, a girl in black as well, in mesh, sultry hose, dark, beautiful and mysterious, stood to the side awaiting her moment, we thought they were probably students of tango, their steps were informed but not quite yet smooth and silken as the dance requires

Greg had been telling me about a mime who’d done magic for children, they would drop a coin into a box for her and she would then somehow make a light glow in their palm as she dropped something into it

I’d listened inattentively, making my way through the crowd instead, that flowed like a turbulent river all around and kept me alert especially to its currents

look, Greg said, it was a stone angel he was pointing at, a charcoal statue about the size of a man, the wings hadn’t been intricately described but they were the right size and spread convincingly above the reverent posture, the head was bent forward somewhat in prayer, the hands piously enfolded, a stone tunic fit the shape and turns of the heavenly body as though it were indeed cloth, the feet, the articulated toes, rested mystically upon the charcoal pedestal

I don’t remember seeing that there, I said to Greg, we’d been along that street before but I’d also always paid more attention to the traffic than the storefronts, and wasn’t unduly surprised that I’d missed maybe even this angel

do you have any change, Greg asked, I noticed a box at the foot of the angel, also charcoal, part of the sculpture, though I thought it strange in fact on public art

no, I said instinctively, careful not to squander my meagre pot, but when he asked again after I’d further considered, rued my initial ungenerous response, I dredged up a few pesos from an alternate pocket

Greg held out the coin to a little girl who stood nearby with her mother, offered it for her to take, whereupon she came by, accepted the change, then proceeded to the sculpture, and dropped the offering into the box for donations, then withdrew

but by then the angel had quivered, was coming to splendid life, and like a revelation had begun to unfold

of course this was a man, I understood in the very moment, but a man in the guise of an angel, which of course is an angel in the guise of a man, for where does the line begin or end which divides them

with a wave of his hand he beckoned the little girl back, she returned and in her palm which he held in his own blessed hand he bestowed a gift, which didn’t glow, I incidentally thought, but must nevertheless be wondrous

already I quivered, frozen in awe, but quaking like a leaf in a mystical wind

the little girl turned around to Greg, held out the gift in her little palm to give it safely and dutifully back to him, but when she opened her hand for him to retrieve the holy thing he merely touched it back again enclosing it there for her to keep, the act itself of another angel, spontaneously selfless, selflessly spontaneous, munificent

by this time of course there were tears in my eyes, I’m a sucker for the acts of angels, but the angel himself had been observing the kindness being proferred in his name, he signalled Greg over and bestowed upon him a gift which again he retrieved from a breast pocket stitched in the stone above his heart

Greg returned with a miniature silver crucifix that gleamed and glistened in his palm, not a glow, incidentally, but an incandescence, and indeed wondrous

but the angel was not about to leave me out and beckoned that I might too receive this blessing so that I advanced to receive also my little cross, he must’ve recognized my fervent admiration, my dumbfounded awe, and would honour me also, I gathered, with his favour

others followed suit, deposited their pesetas, received their little crosses from an always consummate angel, calm, poised, respectful, and profoundly inspirational always, until the wave of them wore off

I still quavered as though the earth had moved, like any creature stunned by for instance lightning, like any one of us before a force of nature starkly and grandly manifested, there is so much we overlook

but driven by finally logic and the practicality of moving on – even mystical experiences are finite – we wended our way forward toward our dinner out, but only a few yards on, meters if you will, out from where we’d had our visitation, I felt I’d left something wholly unfinished, wholly unsaid, asked Greg to return and with me, for me, tell the angel he’d been miraculous, magnificent, that I’d been so very much inspired, in Spanish, for all I could speak was English, and Greg was versed in their tongue

in his ear Greg spoke a fervent Spanish, he’d been there too, was also eager, I slipped a larger, more appropriate amount, I thought, into the coin box, more in keeping with the experience

but the angel didn’t move

he probably didn’t hear, Greg later pointed out, paper won’t sound like change will

but unresponsive to Greg too, I’d wondered, who’d poured his Spanish heart into the angel’s ear, maybe wax from the makeup, he’d thought

for a moment then the angel remained a sculpture, still, and in character, and of stone

then with deep generous eyes that slowly he opened, heavy with the weight, I thought, of maybe the very world, he peered deep into my own

beautiful, I responded, beautiful, the only word I could utter in exalted admiration

then in English, clear and reverberant, like an oracle, I thought, for us all to understand and behold, he replied, simply but wondrously, cryptically enough indeed but with great portent, thank you

to which I could only add, amen

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