Part III: “Ángeles in Teote” (482 words)
The loco-ángel-bit surfaced first, from the don, when I was here on sabbatical from papers and faculty politics, from March to June 2000. Angels, though, always envelope our conversations here, and have, from the very first time I lived in la casa de mi padre, in 1993. “Wake, Lazarus,” a sonnet, came out of stories, full of angels of mercy, from the War Zone, right in the middle of this town:
“Wake, Lazarus!” ©Doug Evans Betanco 2008
Teote is a bone house,
A scarlet, earthen vessel
filled with pale white skulls,
soldier’s bones. Too much blood
cakes cracked adobe walls, muddies
toes of grinning street boys, starved
bellies bloated. What eyes they have!
Their teeth like ivory, angels breathing
light, in this night of bones, haunts,
keening crones, crowing roosters,
danger zones: bright, unburied
of risen flesh, of ribs and hair;
undusted freshness, grounded in air.
Cielo profundo! I do love this concrete poem, almost the first I’m proud of, both classical and romantic, at once, but I loathe the misery of war fought here, so omnipresent when first I came. Back then, unpacking, I pulled out a laminated picture of Archangel Michael, with Sword of Truth raised against the fires of Satan. A friend gave it to me for protection against los ladrones, bandits, still plaguing the highways of Nicaragua in 1993, robbing passengers of buses and the backs of cattle trucks, especially if carrying gringos on their way to the hinterland. Not honorable work for campesinos, but the war, just over, had left many Contras unemployed in their native land. Our hosts from Teote drove with us, carrying AK-47’s.
When I showed my angelcard to don Moncho, he jumped for joy, then explained that Miguel, one Really Bright Ángel, was the family’s patron saint as well as the Árcangel-in-charge of the Sandinista Revolution here in Nicaragua. Half the boys in the family had Miguel or Miguel Ángel as their name, and a few Miquelas, as well. Major synchronicity! This called for a celebration, so we toasted with some of my precious bottled water from Managua. He’s a model for AA. I’m a big fan of this ángel, have been since 1985, when, I swear, he lived under a spruce tree with me, in my magic summer garden office on Blake Court in Glenwood. With don Moncho, I loved toasting him in clean, clear agua, a sacred bonding ritual, padre y hijo y Arcángel, in the name of Diós, the first of multi-many synchronicities.
Little did I know, then, in 1993, that this angelic connection would lead me, 15 years later, to consider a dash through the village at noon, baring all, leaping al Cielo, whirling like a loco dervish with a mop on my head, screeching “Over the Rainbow” too loudly--Oh, well!--way too deep in my asylum--Crazy Central--in Nicaragua.