Helen Douglas

Misericordia

Once upon a time I saw an angel, but I can’t quite remember. And this not quite remembering fills me with such grief as I can hardly bear. She was huge, filled with glory, and terrible, wings white as heaven and soft as graphite. Flecked with gold. She was radiant. Radiant.

What am I to do now? She has taken something from me. She covers me still, binds my heart and holds me fast. She wants to keep me safe here, to lay me down, to sleep. And if ever she should let me go, then everything, all the trappings of the world, would be lost, would leave me naked and barren as some sad sack out of Beckett or Sartre.

This angel is mad. She is too afraid. Once upon a time, she heard a child’s prayer and took pity. She came to me, my soul to keep. She came to me that I not die, that the Lord not take. I wonder what she looks like now. I see her as Lear on the heath, grey, shrunken, tattered and raving.

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