In Vancouver,B.C., down by the waterfront near the wharves, right on the plaza where the tourists stream steadily past - there is a larger than life statue, a memorial to all of the military men and women who have lost their lives fighting for Canada. The angel is set to soar, one arm arched high above its head, while draping an obviously dead soldier over the other. With careful attention to detail - the kind look on the angel’s face ; its seeming ease in lifting the soldier , no visible strain as the angel’s feet dangle as loosely as the whole of the soldier’s limp body; the resignation of death on the young soldier’s face - the sculptor has managed to create something very special here. I find myself going back to my photographs of this tableau again and again, continually inspired to write
new poems, stories, even essays. This is one.
Dearest Dark Angel
She had been searching for him everywhere, it seemed
How odd then to see him on the wing of the dark angel
Just there at the edge of the busy harbour
With gulls wheeling round and noisy, scratching the sky, he was
set to be flown off for eternity, if the angel’s stance was any indication
Her innocent brave son, dressed up like a soldier man
Blood, discernible even through the statue’s grime and blackness
In the folds of the angel’s robes, though fixed, appeared to swirl
as it dripped from the brow beneath the boy’s inadequate helmet
Almost, but not quite, hiding the look of desperate resignation
set upon his baby face like an unsolved puzzle, set to carry to his grave
Involuntarily, she reached out, called to the angel, "Stop, oh please
halt angel of death, don’t take leave of this place with my boy just yet...
I have need of him here, and have been looking the world over for him.
To find him finally, with you and lose him again, all in one swoop of your wings
Feels too unfair to be borne, you do see what I mean, I'm sure, angel?"
The angel – guide of lost souls and death,
and the dead soldier child, stayed on
Gave the mother time to realize her loss afresh,
study the shell that was once her son
Try to reconcile her grief yet again, and work
at letting go of her baby, her boy, her own
Transfixed, she stood as if nailed in place,
regarding the tableau, until the sun left the sky
But before the moon had chanced to throw
its light on the scene, she sadly wept good-bye.