On the subject of wings
Last night I dreamt of wings…
I am creating a show; a found space, actor created work that I was asked to lead. I ask for volunteers from the community who are willing to work organically. I explain the work will come to us, the story will present itself. I’m surprised and pleased to find that so many people have turned out to the meeting. It’s packed. We’re meeting in a room shaped like a hall, one row of seating, like bleachers, lines the base of the wall. There are windows, high and rectangular, that lets in bright sunlight. The walls are well worn, like pine, smooth and aged with water. The production is going to be about animal spirit medicine and the goose will be a central figure. It seems auspicious that I’ve been bitten twice in my life, both severely, by a red billed goose. The idea that animal spirits are calling is all consuming; this is a message from God and this work must be created. Everything needed, rehearsal and performance space, I know will be provided. The meeting is abruptly interrupted by a college drum line; they are really good. I recall the complicated drum line we used in high school and recognize its the perfect place to start our show movement – with a drum line and rhythm – but rhythm that comes from the movements of bodies and wings.
But something smoking off in the corner catches my eye. Big, gray puffs of smoke seep out from a crack in a teal colored wall; the smoke emanates off the skin from the creature living in the wall, which now climbs out from a large, jagged hole to check on what lies sleeping in the middle of the room. Two young children, whom she found and placed there, lie nesting on cotton batting and fish bones. She covers their backs with a crudely sewn together blanket of old, torn clothes. They awake and are startled. She explains to them they have a deformity, like her, and so she must hide it under the blanket to save them from the cruelty of others. The children believe her. What they don’t know is that they have wings; large and beautiful, like an angel’s wings, now hidden and bound with rags.
Something approaches us from outside. I see its shadow fall on the children from the high rectangular window. It is born from a pear tree in the backyard – but the fruit are not pears, they are figs, old and hardened, but figs. And this thing that grew from the seeds is the children’s rightful guardian, to take them back to heaven, but we are scared of it. These children are God’s new children. This place is the abandoned garden of Eden, reclaimed now by God after he condemned it, after Adam and Eve fled from it in shame and humiliation. The creature that lives in the wall found the garden and found the children before they took their first bite of the fig. The impending task and purpose, being too big of a thing to ask of children, promises pain, difficulty, loneliness and yet its theirs to bare. She wanted to hold them, to protect them. The thing that approaches cannot be stopped.
Wings flutter and beat against the air; the beat is awkward. An angel sits crying in the middle of a Kolkata street. He’s lost and can’t find his way home. It turns out that he was found and raised by human parents. His father died long ago. His mother never told him what his wings were for, he thought them a curse so bulky and awkward; she never told him that he was an angel, in order to keep him by her side. She didn’t tell him he was an angel to prevent him from flying back to heaven and leaving her. She loved him too much to see him go but not so much to tell him he was an angel. She kept him from Heaven and now he’s forbidden to enter. He must live on these streets alone, among the suffering, among the sick.
This morning, I look out my window and catch the movement of something dark snapping against the wind. It appears black against the snow, close to the road, perhaps discarded plastic or tarp, moving from side to side. A large hawk stands up as if appearing out of a dream, rising and stretching to its full height, its wings now outstretched, my breath catches. Thrashing, flapping, wings catch the air; snow and ice fly as feathers brush against the ground. The hawk soars to a nearby branch. Chest held high to attention, it watches the house. I step outside and snap a single picture as it flies away.