The Very Old Man With Enormous Wings saved my life yesterday. I taught it twice and read it aloud both times. The first time I read it, it was just a story of joy and wonder. Do angels happen in my life and are they sometimes smelly and ugly? And how do I treat them? And do I sometimes run away from my angels just so I can see a spider the size of a ram with the head of a lady? And when he finally flies away, how willing am I to let him soar over the rooftops while I cut up onions? The smelly angel was my father, my friends, my students, and all the miracles I refuse to see.
My students wondered about the angel as much as I did. They wanted his wings to grow back black like a raven and take revenge over the people who threw stones at him. They surmised from the one reference to a "fallen angel" that he was Lucifer fallen to earth. When I defined diction for them, they told me how Marquez used lofty language alongside the common smelly reality of our lives and for a second I wondered if perhaps they were loving words they way that I do.
I wanted to watch that day and that story fly away long after my onions were cut.