They gave us three angels each. They were made of plaster and were painted in pink. They said, put them on trash piles, on the sides of bridges, at bus stops; they said put these around the city, anywhere you'd like. They are angels to inspire people.
We prayed around them in circles of four, and there were three hundred of us, together. I did it because I thought it would help me get you back, the angels and all that praying.
1. The First Angel
It was a Thursday, I think. A blue pick-up truck was at the stoplight—it was the truck you used to drive. The street lamps had not been lit yet, and there was still that indigo sky, the kind you named your dog after. It stretched very far above me. This color I had seen only once before, lying on the hood of your car with my head on your stomach.
I thought surely you would come back. You always said you would. I kept thinking of the day I would turn around and you would be there in the kitchen door in your green boots, all wet from the rain. It would be many years after you'd left and you would not tell me why you had gone, and I would not ask. We would just keep going.
The wind came. It braided the leaves into eights and lifted my hair, and I thought I saw you. But the truck drove away when the light changed.
2. The Second Angel
In Court House Square there is a man who used to play the violin every day. It had only one string. I'm sure you don't remember, after all this time. He could not play more than seven notes, and it was not at all beautiful. It made the sound of an old bus, when its brakes fall apart. But I fell in love with you anyway, in the Square listening to this man with his violin.
For a while after you left I made myself go past to hear how the sound had changed. It drifted, like lanterns through dark hallways.
There was the day when I knew you were not coming back. Pietra was very angry with me for loving you still, in that same way I always had. She said parts of me were passing away a little at a time. I said, yes, perhaps. My hair had grown white at the ends, although I was still very young. I remember after she left, I said to the man with the violin: You know, I fell in love with Edmond somewhere between two of your notes. The man did not know English, I think. He smiled and nodded his head, saying, yes, Edmond, Edmond. I said to him, Do you remember Edmond? and he kept nodding and said again, yes, Edmond, Edmond.
I saw that it had never been a song for you and I, really. It was just a story about a man sitting alone, on a red bench after dinnertime.
3. The Third Angel
I kept the third angel for you, Edmond. There were rules against keeping them ourselves but I did it anyway. You were always angry with me for following the rules. I wrapped it in tissue paper and kept it under your uniform in the hall closet.
I left in the middle of the night. It was very warm out. I took off my jacket and left it on the side of the road. I was in my nightgown still, I don't even think I had any shoes on, can you imagine that? I left just like that, even though I thought, I won't make it home again without any shoes.
There was that sky again, with its near-hazel rim, and the dust rose into a veil behind me.
About Iowa Writes
Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.
In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.
Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.
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Victoria Sprow received her B.A. from Harvard University and her M.Phil in Creative Writing from Trinity College Dublin. She is currently a candidate for the M.F.A. in Fiction at the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
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