Angel wrestling

4 Jun

I’m at the Millay Colony, a beautiful quiet artists’ colony in upstate New York. Today I saw and heard frogs, deer, and lots of trees and sky. Wild thyme and strawberries in the grass. On the door of the studio I’m in (where people carve their name after their stay) someone has written THIS ENORMOUS SIMPLICITY. And that’s about right. In the quiet lurks whatever you’ve brought with you–the fear and dark as well as the inspiration— and here you are to wrestle it into form.

In THE SATANIC VERSES there’s a wonderful section where a man, perhaps the Prophet (it’s a while since I read it) climbs up a mountain every day to wrestle in a cave with an angel. The angel always beats him to a pulp, and Rushdie writes (I’m paraphrasing) that the Prophet was never sure whether the angel had invented him, needing a sparring mate–or whether the angel was formed from the cord of longing emanating from the center of his own body. (In any case, the angel kicked ass).

Today, by those terms, I chickened out. I spent the day moving furniture and sharpening pencils while the angel crouched on the door-frame and mocked me for being too scared to step into the ring (“into the wring” I almost wrote. Or rote.) Tomorrow… I’ll dip my toe in. I will.


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