Before my guardian angel came crashing to the ground in a heap of bloody early summercottonwood fluff, he clipped the top of his left wing on an abstract steel sculpture recently implanted in a park inwhat used to be his typical oceanside flight planfrom up there wherever to the balcony of my apartment where he would normally perch, occasionally to torment the oddpigeon or seagull that’s not quite tuned into the abstract, ethereal vibes that constantly inhabit my balcony, whether angel-boy is there or not.
And before the crash to the ground, perhaps it was yesterday or last month [who knows, what with PacificAngel Time and all] he hit a patch of vertigo while hovering in the cliffsideupdrafts in the Grand Canyon. When he panicked and plummeted he was fortunate that the mildestgust tossed him enough so he could land on the cliff edge rather than down down down.
I used to be somewhat self-conscious about having a sub-standard guardianangel. I mean is my karmic balance so out of whackthat I don’t rate a qualified guide? Did I piss off some early muse as a cocky teenage poet full of self-defined genius and overwhelming erotic allure and hyper-critical insight into the stupidityof the previous poetic generation that I —and only I— had the powerto erase them from the canon?
But as I got older from being such a teenage cock, I started meeting others who, when properly motivated by whatI learned to cultivate— a safe trustworthy ear, would admit to having suspicions of cosmic incompetence “guiding” them into co-dependent,dysfunctional ultimately imploding, self-destructive relationships with uber-egotists. So maybe I wasn’t alone. Maybe we’re all in this trap, thinking there are reliable wingsto catch us, when really they’re not necessarily any more reliable than our own commonsense.
And then I began asking who setsthe standards for quality, or eve competent, guardian angels. What committee was empowered and by who and what about the applicants— was there a sufficient pool to drawfrom or do dead 1970’s glam-rock drummers get to apply?
And once I’d cultivated enough doubtand suspicion of my supposed guardian angel, I came to see him more as a companion, a mostly unobtrusive friend who thankfully lacked the capacity to annoy me like some inconsiderateroommate who never cleans his pasta pots. And wouldn’t you know, I began to see him more as my sense of awe lifted. He’d sit on my balcony rail, ten stories up, often lost in his nearly-patenteddaze staring at meandering lava lamp cloud formations— as if he had some major life decisiondilemma looming over him. Maybe he did.
There were even days when he looked so down and I was amidst an optimistic,inspired streak, that I felt it was actually my presencearound him that made all the difference, that kept him from sliding off therail to kiss the pool deck below at terminal velocity. Those were the days that if it weren’t for the grooveI was in, I’d be cynical enough to think thatthe Great Chain of Being was actually one of those chains attached to a rubber plug in thebathroom sink, that every time it slipped out ofyour hand the chain would seek the plumbingdepths by diving, jingling, down the drain, desperate to drag the plug withit, only to be ultimately frustratedwhen the plug merely did its job.
So when I heard the crash and saw the bloody cottonwood fluff, I knew I was on my own. And the air, it doesn’t taste all that different after all. But I still miss you, angel-boy.
Copyright 2002, Stephen Buckley 10.16.02, 915-945pm
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