Fall and Gabriel / Naveen Kishore

Fall

Fall

the sky descended on him

like a mirror

reflecting his aging wings

fatigue gathered

like rust over centuries

his loneliness

an ancient stepwell

deep, in fact so deep

that you wonder if it is

a dark stillness

an abyss that has not known

the winter chill or

the summer heat

his heart, full

of questions

unable to dust

the wings clean, the angel

climbed down the steps

bare feet

echoing

the slow descent

How may I turn this fall into an ascent?

They tried him. Without a trial. Accusing him of things he had not done. Pronouncing guilt. Sentencing. As punishment. They tied him up. Wrapping a rope around him from head to toe. Arms parallel to his body. His wings like tightly clenched fists. Bound to his arms. As he stood. Proud and tall. Shot him with a water cannon at 40 degrees below zero. Frozen thus. They lowered him from the trapdoor in the sky. And cut the rope.

The angel expelled.

Imagine a narrow road. With flickering lamps from a different age. Gingerly placed atop tall posts. Shadows against the sky. Just before their daily demise at the hands of the morning light. Night into day. A cross fade. Like it does in black and white films. Stretching uphill into a horizon gradually coming to life. Its silver beginning to make its presence known. The dew washed cobblestones rubbing their eyes. Stretching sideways. Waking up. Becoming aware of the dawn light caressing them. Aslant. The road paved in silver. A feast of glitter. A scene that started like a silhouette as in shadow plays and gradually discovered its own identity as the dawn made way for the first rays of the sun. And the sounds of the morning. For which I find I am responsible. Though I know not how. Or why. I cant for the life of me choose the sound track. The effects. I know that for continuity’s’ sake I need the horse drawn milk cart. What with cobblestones and flickering lamps. But I keep hitting the wrong buttons.  Loud honking trucks and cars in a hurry. The cycles and the morning joggers with their dogs running beside them. Clearly a confused set of cues. In the midst of this growing irritation I am stopped dead in my tracks by a falling body. Just like that. With not a single tall building in sight. This being a small town at the edge of the world where the strictest of architecture laws prevail. One plus one. That’s it. A ground floor and a first floor. Tiled roofs. Wood and earth. So where did this thing this body fall from? Nothing to be done. Since nobody else seems to have noticed anything amiss. I stop in my tracks. Go over to the body. White. Completely covered in a body suit made up of a fabric I do not recognize. Familiar but not known. Bend over it. Gently straightening its twisted wings. Lifting the weight of the torso to free the left one. The legs are splayed and need straightening. The feet bare. Showing signs of burns. I cradle the body in such a manner that the face and head are leaning against my chest as I sit on the road. The narrow one that walks into the horizon. The one with cobblestones. No longer silver. The sun having seen to that. I notice the face. The shut eyes. The nose. The mouth. The ears. Something tells me I have seen this person with the wings before. Not in a dream. Nor in a painting. Elsewhere. But I cannot remember where. I see no visible signs of injury. The breathing is gentle. So I know he is alive. I touch the forehead. Then gently try and open each eye with my fingers. I notice that the first one has a vivid dream playing under the eyelids. Compelling. Grand. Evocative. I shut it hurriedly. Feeling a sense of guilt. Like I am intruding. I slowly open the other eye. Recoiling like you would from an electric shock. Burning my fingers and being thrown backwards by the force of a shattered dream. The eye behind the eyelid was raging. In fury. Destroying everything that had been evocative. Grand. Compelling in the other eye. Dream into nightmare.

On that dark and moonless night a restless and invisible moon flitted from one tree to another. Seeking absolution.

That same night. Under a cloak of darkness. The angel shed the weight of his wings. Deciding to run barefoot. So as to make a hurried escape.

Elsewhere. A man punished for something he had not done. Condemned to a life of imprisonment. No longer wishing to count the days.

The woman sat patiently. Waiting at the window. Staring at where the moon had once resided. Where all that now remained was a black hole in the sky.

Gabriel

He proceeded to shape a coffin from suitably appropriate wood. One in which he hid all the letters of the alphabet. In twos. And threes. Taking no chances. He carefully covered each letter in tiny but strong oilskins. So as to withstand the hot and the cold. The floods. The storms. The snow. The fires in the forest.

He dug a grave. Not his own. Or that of a friend. Or relative. Or fellow author. Or poet. Just a grave. An ordinary one at that. Having completed his labour. He lay down in the coffin. The one with the alphabet. To rest.

Digging a grave can prove to be hard work.

Naveen Kishore, publisher Seagull Books and photographer.

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