With its dark oak walls and conical thatched roof our summer house is now over a century old. Inside are a few garden tools, a bamboo table and chair, an old panama hat on a peg, and a souvenir from the Black Forest long ago.
one hand is still
but the carved buttercup keeps swinging
One morning early this summer I was sitting there in a cloud of incense, halfway between reverie and meditation. And then –
with its knowing smile
It is perched on the iron pine cone which hangs on a chain below the clock. What surprises me is not being as surprised as I ought to have been. At first sight it is like a very large escaped budgie or a bat. But in fact it is just what you’d expect a Pre-Raphaelite angel to look like – golden hair, perfect little hands and feet, flowing white gown, and those lovely folded wings. It is lit up by sunshine, except that little ordinary sunshine comes through those dusty leaded panes.
At first I was coarse and curious. Glad to note that it appeared to have no gender – which removed one possible complication. I thought of dusting off the gilded parrot cage up in the attic. And what about identifying it? I already have a recognition manual for fairies, goblins and the like. Artist’s impression in colour on one page. On the facing page habitat and habits, average height and weight in centimetres and grams, and, most important, degree of good and evil. Surely there must be something similar for hierarchical things like angels. Was it just a seraphim, or maybe even an archangel? I try to speak to it but it puts its finger to its lips.
By midsummer I have grown used to its presence. If it lives anywhere it is up in the cobwebbed interior of the summerhouse roof, though it is always immaculately turned out. I love to watch it fluttering and soaring, or sitting with folded wings. No, there’s no such thing as angel shit. They live on ambrosia or something like that. My angel just comes and hangs out with me, charging up the whole room. Most of all I love that strange quizzical smile which draws out the man I’m usually afraid to be.
there is no fear!
only gooseberry jam
An angel’s gift, and rare.
When first it visited the angel seemed substantial as flesh and blood. Now, in late summer, it has become as iridescent as a sunbeam. I know that by the end of the season, mission completed, it will vanish altogether.
how smoothly it turns
in the summer house lock