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August 2001 - Athens

I dream of Angels.

They arrive stark-naked; their wings folded up against their ribs and they walk like birds standing up, but with great ease, as if they’re equally familiar with walking and flying; they don’t seem at all disconcerted – they watch out not to step in muddy places; they window-shop outside trendy boutiques and consider buying blue jeans; they peer in dimly lit kafenia, savour the aroma of fresh-ground coffee. They don’t stay long. The “krak, krak, krak” of the tavli boards, the non-stop chatter and the persistent cloud of cigarette smoke grates on them.

It seems my Angels are visible only to some people. Children call out in joyful enchantment: Two Angels, Two Angels. Young couples zipping by on motorcycles can see them perfectly. In my father’s neighbourhood, the grocer, the baker, the butcher, the woman, Angeliki, who wanders the streets selling lottery tickets and lives in upstairs apartment, can’t see them.

These two Angels adjust their pace according to the rhythms of modern Greek life. Observing the hairstyles of young men, they realize their own hair is much too long, so when they finally arrive at 19 Perikleous Street, they ask for scissors and a trim. I watch these iridescent insects fold their massive wings and hunch their shoulders to pass through the low door of the guesthouse where I sleep.

A clear bell like voice calls out “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory.”

I look down at my hands and see that I am holding two morsels of bread.

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