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The Cherub

I could barely hear the syllables dissolving


Opalescent bromide bubbles

Trailing behind him as he wafted forward

What he said

I am not sure

I think it was

‘I have to go

Into my life

This life that you have left so empty

drawn upon this page

Just in front of me’

I don’t think he wanted to go

It was that forward thrust of one foot fore and one back

I made him do it

The angel who has no choice but to follow the vector of his creation

I am that creator, the one whose brush

Curved that foot,

Splayed out that hand

And it just happened

As if by no act of will at all

She sat down absentmindedly on the old painted wooden chair. Her faded blue and navy print housedress was mostly whitish grey now. Only her son would remember that dress when he was ten and it was newly slid from between the feed dog and the presser foot. He loved it and had felt it was his doing that she had it, looking so pretty and delicate on his big-boned mother. He always wanted her to buy small-print blouses, feminine things.

She wore the dress now for painting in her studio, she called it, the kitchen table with most of its resident three-day old mail and pens and newspaper rubber bands pushed to one corner or fallen on the floor. She also wore it to do some casual weed-pulling from the rock garden in the front if it was warm out, and lots of times to do what needed to be done until she needed to go out and look put together, as her mother would say. Put together.

She looked in delight and resignation at the cherub on the paper on the table. So lovely. She wanted to pick him up and hug him, carry him around next to her breast, which he would fondle, his chubby legs around her middle. And here he was, all facing the other way, and therefore on his own, needing to go wherever that blank space she’d left on the page in front of him led to.

Well, of course she knew it didn’t lead anywhere, but still.

In the world of ideas, it leads somewhere. In the knowing of the cherub with the blue-green wings ….. it’s funny how you know some things, she thought. She knew he didn’t know or care what color his wings were, didn’t know or care what color his body was. No. His whole focus was where she couldn’t see what he was thinking. And she had drawn it that way! Thought she’d wanted one thing and done the other. She’d made him face away and would never be able to follow where he was thinking of going.

She new exactly what his face looked like, would be able to describe precisely how his eyelids crinkled and his full lower lip dimpled in the middle if she wanted to call Judi right now, or Alice, and tell them how wasn’t it funny that she had painted this beautiful little putto – though really she’d thought it would be an angel, a big, dignified, powerful angel, as awesome as a dragon and capable of carrying her away. But she didn’t need to call anyone.

The four o’clock sun breathed intimately on the table, whispering ‘aaaahhhh! How sweet’ to the cherub, apparently unaware. Well, it was hard to know exactly what he was aware or unaware of since you couldn’t see his face.

How absolutely astounding, she thought. Being an artist is confounding, and so lovely. Look what I’ve done, she thought, looking closely at the drops of color still drying on the mottled white page.

Beautiful darling, sand-box angel. I love you. I love you. I love you.

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