Wednesday, November 28, 2007


When I was a wee lass, this print hung in my bedroom. I've had it for as long as I can remember, and looking at it is always comforting to me, in the same way that watching a favorite Saturday morning cartoon, or making popcorn in the Jiffy Pop stove way are comforting. It gives me that "coming home" feeling, if you know what I mean.

My mom told me that the picture was called "Guardian Angel," but my 4-year old brain interpreted that as "Gartie and Angel." For all of my childhood I assumed the picture was of little Gartie walking in the forest with an angel on her tail. I often wondered why she was named Gartie, what kind of name was Gartie, and why wasn't it Gertie, and for that matter, why wasn't it Gretel, and where was Hansel, and if I looked close enough at the picture, would I see breadcrumbs on the ground? It wasn't until I was a teenager that I realized that it wasn't "Gartie and Angel," but "Guardian Angel." I felt stupid at the time, but that feeling quickly faded and turned into a sort of personal satisfaction at being so creative in my misunderstanding.

That said, here's a poem about a guardian angel that holds out hope in the face of hopelessness.

The Guardian Angel by Stephen Dunn

Afloat between lives and stale truths,
he realizes
he's never truly protected one soul,

they all die anyway, and what good
is solace,
solace is cheap. The signs are clear:

the drooping wings, the shameless thinking
about utility
and self. It's time to stop.

The guardian angel lives for a month
with other angels,
sings the angelic songs, is reminded

that he doesn't have a human choice.
The angel of love
lies down with him, and loving

restores him his pure heart.
Yet how hard it is
to descend into sadness once more.

When the poor are evicted, he stands
between them
and the bank, but the bank sees nothing

in it's way. When the meek are overpowered
he's there, the thin air
through which they fall. Without effect

he keeps getting in the way of insults.
He keeps wrapping
his wings around those in the cold.

Even his lamentations are unheard,
though now,
in for the long haul, trying to live

beyond despair, he believes, he needs
to believe
everything he does takes root, hums

beneath the surfaces of the world.

1 comment:

  1. Hi. I googled "guardian angel" in my search for this exact painting. My mom gave it to me too when I was young and it got lost years ago. I have been searching for it online. Are you able to tell me the name of the artist or any other information so that I might find a copy somewhere?

    I love your story about Gartie, by the way. So endearing. Thanks for posting this! It has done my heart good.