Edited by BLAS FALCONER | BARRY KITTERMAN | AMY WRIGHT
Eat Me: Instructions from the Unseen
Sarah A. Odishoo
I don’t know what to think of “angels.” They are more sea spray than tide, more earthquake than stone buildings, and every now and then, a crocus or those magnolia buds that burst open overnight to astound my forgetful eyes. But what can I say about those times when I know something of import is being “said,” but I stand mute at the message from the flower, but then I think I see the flower breathing. Is that an angel?
Words are angels that come to die in the air.
Angels may be forces from dimensions we cannot sense because their dwelling place is in those borders we normally don’t cross. The Unthinkable, some have called it, The Unimaginable, others might name it. But the idea is that angels live outside of our clearing, say, in the “wilds” outside our civilized clearings. Therefore, to find the angel, we must move beyond the known into the Unknown, the Dark, the Forbidden, and the Repressed. What in early religion and myth was defined as Chaos is where perhaps Angels dwell.
Angels are those who break our hearts—open.
“The abyss of essence” is what Heidegger called poetry, the bridge, perhaps, to the kind of thinking that allows us to perceive of angels. However, I have found that as soon as I start to speak of angels, I have had to move to metaphor, but the trip is always and ever treacherous.
Angels, like sorrow, appear suddenly, without a word—mostly unwelcome and Unnamable.
What if we are exiled aliens living in a clearing in a cosmic-forest, and all around us are the wilds—dark, dangerous, forbidding? We don’t know out there from in here, up from down, left from right, and we have been told, assured by all, that the Earth and what we see is all there is, and if we go too far, we will fall off the known—you know, the face of the Earth—and into the beginning of terror. That means, literally, we will die; if not die, go mad, and worst of all, if we do come back alive and not mad-as-a-hatter, we might as well be dead or mad, because coming back would mean we would not be like anyone else. That may be worse than dying. So we try not to go.
When the time changes, the Earth’s choruses sound loud
But the garden empties, and the birds bawl at the sliver of light
Like reborn evangelists in a dark world.
What if we go too far? As if the world hasn’t already shown us too far…
where there doesn’t seem to be even a crack, or a pin drop, the Earth rumbles; when words seem clear after someone says, “I’m coming.” and never does, the sentence like a prison term, isolating; and then what of those innocent children who are taken to the hospital to die, and no one, no, no one ever says “die,” but mothers sleep beside them, holding them the way they did before they were born, under their belly, sensing the beat of the heart against their own chest, so their babies don’t think they are alone even in this temple to healing the unhealed. Or if they are healed, they are not made whole. Are they?
Like any mothering animal,
My shield is resigning to love.
In a dream, I saw children in baptismal gowns, magnolia blossoms splayed like shade under the tree, and the wind playing tag with both. Angels?
Perhaps, this Earth is the Lord’s playground. And angels rip open the veil that Earth casts over our eyes? Perhaps, our skin is a veil as well, one that keeps us hidden from each other, but not really. We may really be as transparent as larva, pupae, jellyfish, or any seedling wriggling to life. And our divine orders: a lifetime of dying in order to learn finally that this body, too, is living plasma fabric, a larval cocoon, an emptiness that needs to be filled—with something that can fly and with wings imprinted with a map, and when we are awakened, a different life-form will take us back to our origins.
Like lightning behind the dark trees,
The future, comes, all at once…
Angels may not be coincidences, not random acts at all, not luck at all, but intended directives, meaningful contact—angel couriers. When angels call it may mean either great fullness or terrible absences. It is not what we knew beforehand that speaks to us. It’s a vision of the real before we know it.
Ceaseless this love that passes
Through me, knowing it will
Reach you and is where I cannot be…
If this is God’s playground for primal learners, perhaps angels are the teachers.
Rabbi, guru, Dalai Lama, Anointed One, all are guides, teachers, mentors, advisors, and counselors to a higher truth—to what is real.
That may be what the calling is about—discovery. That is, out there in the wilds, angels may need us to discover them.
They are the frightening miracles of another reality—ones that live in the deepest and most unknown territories of our soul. And like those sickly children tucked under their mother’s breast and heart, in her arms they sense what is real. You can’t touch them, but touch like invisible radio waves transmits essential messages through the ether of this other world to ease the fright—of both the harm and the miracle that eases the fear.
As a girl, I would sit in front of the radio
And wait to hear words from the invisible
Nation of bodiless voices, foretelling the end of days…
And perhaps Angels call us to discover those aspects of ourselves that are dark, destructive, fearsome, shameful, dismal, despairing, but mostly they are unthinkable! That part of us we know the least. Like a whirlpool, we may be caught in the pull of what draws us downward, into ourselves from outside...the Sirens...called to our own destruction...our own essence—the abyss of unknowing.
Angels in lace and blood
Harboring news half there,
But when it reaches us—
The other half…
And where could they come from? Our terrible barrenness, emptiness, blankness, meaninglessness, worthlessness, isolation, loneliness, hopelessness, and futility. They are sent and we call them into the harshness that is the starkness of our being. It’s a cry for help. And for angels, like mothers with babies, it is one of the only sounds that is real. The other sound is love.
May I also say that I think angels have to do with love? We have only one word for the multitude of harmonies we feel in that regard. Love, for me, is that force, perhaps forces that connect us literally and symbolically to each other so forcefully, that nothing else in the universe matters without it, and with it, everything else in the universe matters.
Stones in fruit
Seeds in stones….
I see them more as martyrs and we as lions because we are so crude, so primitive in our knowing about essence that we are the devourers of the defenseless who make themselves vulnerable and powerless to us—the ones seeking aid.
If we answer the call and go beyond our borders, we can get the angel. Hunters that we are, we will make them “food for thought.” They become our nourishment—feeding our deepest spiritual hungers. What is in them gives us what we are lacking. The angel has completed the transformation we are still trying to process. They have taken the visible to another dimension of reality—one that is invisible to us. Our intuition senses it, but still loving the senses, we find awful the angels voices in our heads—the beginning of terror.
I don’t believe God
Made me more than
A scare-er of crows,
This skeleton that shivers
To keep away ghosts of ideas
That are all You—even the crows…
In earth-worshipping tribes and civilizations, those who heard spiritual voices were leaders of the “primitive” human herds and led them. Those voices in us have been stilled. We are stilled. And if we do hear voices, angel voices—mad, quite mad—the persistent all require the herd to hear.
Ice appears as transparent as glass sweating
But it weighs nothing and burns…
So if we can’t enter them, then they can enter us. How, you may ask? We must eat them! How? Whatever way we can. We, the ovens and hearts (hearths) of the alchemists, take them in, digest them, heat them up, bodies and souls intermixed, so we are them, they are us in every cell, in every atom. But what we take in of these electrifying monsters is an insatiable desire to know what the gods know—knowledge that will “poison:” truths that are fatal, a love that is wholly indifferent and “immoral,” according to our own limited thinking/feeling. To know in this sense is to love so completely, without judgment, without condition of any sort, without expectation, or possession, to love that which is created and uncreated so profoundly that its becoming and its way of becoming conscious are timely and precious and like a god—all accepting of the other’s being.
Eating angels produces a lump in the throat
An empty sky on the tongue
A knife on the throat
And a shadow swallowing you whole.
When we do eat them we will know it. Like lions to their prey, we will mutilate and shred them, stuffing their faces and entrails into our mouths unthinking. Think of your first love, the last one. “What angel did you eat?” How many mouthfuls before you knew you were eating each other alive—one or the other screaming in terror, or muted in pain? That’s the other problem. Angels come in human form—our hearts. We are the angels and we are not. Both.
Hoarded guilt, a patchwork
Torrid migraines, window panes
We suffer our own secret sorrow’s aftermath
Misunderstanding, the half as the whole…
I can compare it best to a child’s learning to walk; using that paradigm, I would say, no one can teach that child to love. The child must respond to its own demands, calls, if you will. But there are times, especially at the beginning, when the child has risen to its feet, seen the surrounding terrain from an upright position, and in that altered state of consciousness, in delight she is drawn and finds her way. She moves, again with delight, but suddenly, slipping and falling, she cracks her head on the floor. If you have ever seen a child who is just learning to walk fall, then you know the look of outrage, one in which she is certain that she has been punished unjustly. Learning to love is like walking, it means falling, means misunderstanding, means it has its own consequences that feel like punishments.
Loving is the beginning of learning to walk. Angels? Our call to wake up. Go. Whenever we hurt, love again with more intention. When we hurt, trust even more that love that seemingly betrayed. Look for that angel. All we can know is that we must connect to what we don’t know, that part of the all that has been seemingly withdrawing, abandoning, unnamable, inaccessible, except as we learn to take it in.
Eat me, the instructions from those unseen creatures. And just as Alice did, at the threshold of Wonderland, we might get too big to enter that strange world or become so small we will float in through the keyhole. Either way, the world will have changed because we will have listened to the call with an intention—to love the messenger and the message.
Winging my way
By heart, again
This time trusting
The skin of my desire
To feel the gate of some god
Open, and I, in a flash,
Leap toward what
I cannot see…but eat anyway…
We look for angels in all the wrong places, but we may find them in each other’s eyes.
Food for thought. Bon Appétit!
PoetryWhittling My Legs into a Rocking Chair by Alex Lemon
If some higher power knows
What’s best for us, then bring
On a monsoon of dung
Beetles, a mouthful of rats.