The Angelus

I) AIR

Once, upon the eiderdown, Lillian devised a curious plan
‘I will invent myself,’ she declared ‘the Perfect Man.’

On a clear day she experimented with gravity, hanging
Out the window upside-down, wishing to free-fall into blue nothing
Air, she reasoned, was by far the safest element in which to land
And considered the consequence of total emergence in others to hand.

 

‘I’m certain Death By Air must be the pleasantest way to die
An appropriately angelic way of assuring immortality!

My Hero is to be an angel then,’ and she checked her books
But the nearest illustrated figures were Jesus Christ and Icarus
Suspended on the window ledge, she touched the Golden Son
And condemned Victorian modesty for ruining her fun.

 

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Air No.1
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Air No.2

Trapped between her brothers on a Sunday, she drew her breath
Gave it feathered form and thorny wreath

She knelt, waiting for His body with an eager tongue
Grinned contrite to high hosannas, as her brothers did the same
But their eyes held nothing; their hands holding stomachs preached
Of the dangers scoffing windfalls on the way to church.

 

Upon her bed that night, mamma’s contradictions
Drew wild childhood fantasies from adult fiction

So Lillian’s Ideal became reality; with hidden beauty He began to breathe
Surviving suffocation, buried deep among the leaves
‘How terribly irregular to have a wingless angel, sleeping in one’s garden!’
Yet in her quilted warmth of feathers, left Him till the morning.

 

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Air No.3
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Air No.4

II) EARTH

Out in blue by the potting shed, she dug up sacred thorns
Oblivious as white hands bled; her pretty dress was torn

‘You have spread out the strong sky, like a molten looking-glass.’
The earth quietened by southern winds, balancing the clouds that passed
Through her head, clearing soon for her to see
The profitable business making angels for a fee.

 

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Earth No.5

Lillian presented Him among the cucumber sandwiches, which made her brothers frown
Such angular beauty, thinly-cut and organically grown

‘Our race is losing manliness,’ He barked, ‘Athletic training is vital for our nation’s strength.’
Took Laurence to one side and gave a monologue on games at length
‘To church tomorrow, darling,’ Mamma later said, ‘He seems to me
A perfect case of anti-intellectualism – God Bless Chivalry!’

 

Earth No.6

Biting on an apple, Lillian sighed, ‘With our engagement known, I do believe one kiss
Rather than spoil your appetite, would lay foundations for matrimonial bliss.’

Around the scented hair antique temptations blew
Tiring of them, He confessed ‘Natural Instincts’ were really all He knew
She mused; His rendition of ‘All Creatures’ is sincere to say the least
Is it possible that such a gentleman could be a beast?

 

Tripping over words in white, she stumbled with Him into rice
Blinded momentarily, His lingering spit upon her lips gave sudden fright

Mamma, joyful, dried her eyes, where stinging rice had forced a tear
‘Formal arrangements are so becoming to a girl,’ she beamed, adjusting hair
Around the arch Lillian bit her lip, coloured, catching the vulgarities of men idea-proof and impotent
Laurence gazed in glazed affection, while their brother whispered claims to being Next Best Man.

 

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Earth No.7
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Earth No.8

 

III) WATER

On a smooth day they sojourned en masse (Lillian had packed some things to eat)
Salt air whetted appetites for polite conversation; baptism and babies, definitions of a beast
Among bicycles, balls, and flasks of tea, mamma religiously confided
‘On the question of supremacy between lion and loin, I confess to be divided!’
Buried under dead hot sand He closed His eyes, while Laurence stood above
He sweated, ‘Comfort Me with apples, for I am sick of love.’

 

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Water No.9

Lillian looked slightly wrecked, staring lost at sea
Pondering hopelessly on immortality

Glanced regretfully at Him, directing sport at water’s edge
Wishing she had had a bash at mermen instead
Her frustration leaked to physical form; Laurence looked in fear
As He escaped up woodland path, clutching at His ears.

 

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Water No.10

Stepping through the old church wall, Laurence found Him in the ivy
The delicate facade was wrecked, His pointed ears still moist and shiny

Awoken Natural Instincts; were they not terribly uncouth?
‘Let him kiss me, with the kisses of his mouth.’
Took His tongue of fire which, once lit, cleared his brain
Preventing cultural conditioning anticipating rain.

 

An ivy curtain lifted; Lillian tripped through the altar door
China pale, confused, committed, virgin-whore

Casting off His clothing, He became the wolf
Laurence took it as a mirror image of himself
How can angels be subject to Lycanthropic Behaviour?
Are not angels also beasts, watered down by human flavour?

 

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Water No.11
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Water No.12

 

IV) FIRE

Once, upon a sudden whim, Lillian devised a curious plan
‘I shall wear again my dress of white, and hunt the beast within.’
Cleaning out both barrels, such burly obligation
Only reinforced her fears of sexual alienation
Left comfortable fireside; let the russet forest part
How daddy would have laughed to see such seasonal sport.

 

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Fire No.13

Lillian floated through the trees; startled Him with shot
Brought Him bloody to His knees with uncontrollable regret

‘The spirit of Man is a candle, searching all the inward parts.’
(You confuse moral contradictions with judgements of the heart
You control my appearance, not my nature
Only human, being creature).

 

She stroked His amber loins; His blood was real
Blaming Him no more for falling short of her ideal

In a clearing she revealed herself
Shedding white as He did wolf
Laurence later claimed Him from her breast
Naked as the flames that ate a pretty wedding dress

 

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Fire No.14
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Fire No.15

‘I did think mamma never really had a heart at all
So how odd our revelations should have caused it to stand still!

Invisible, immortal, she shall still Play the Game
But Hell Fire or Holy Spirit, there is no difference in a flame.’
Lillian turned her musing, with her mother, back to earth
Content in the simplicity of mortal life.

 

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Fire No.16

 

Originally published in PREF HS (Hors-Série) magazine Volume 1.

Pref Special.