Angel in the Wood
John A. Ward
Cooder held his knife in his right hand and the two-by-two block of pine in his left.  With a probe of his knife tip he found its flesh.
 
 “What are you doing?” asked Chesty.
 
“Studying the grain,” he said. 
 
“Why?”
 
“I’m looking for the angel in the wood.”
 
“That’s what Michelangelo did,” said Chesty.  “He looked for the statue in the stone.  I read it in a book.”
 
“The Agony and the Ecstasy,” said Cooder.
 
“That was it.  She’s svelte.”
 
Cooder looked around the sidewalk café and up and down along the Riverwalk.  “Who’s svelte?”
 
“Your angel in the wood.”
 
“You’re right.  If she were voluptuous, she’d be hiding in a four-by-four.”
 
Chesty checked her dress for bulges.  She didn’t find any other than the ones that should be there.  “I don’t know what you see in those skinny angels.”
 
“I don’t see anything yet.  She’s still a block of wood.” 
 
“How many svelte angels do you make for every voluptuous one?’
 
“About four-to-one.”
 
“So you like svelte better than voluptuous?”
 
“No, it’s simple economics.  A svelte angel starts as a two-by-two block, a voluptuous angel as a four-by-four.  For the same amount of wood, I can get four sveltes to every voluptuous.”
 
Chesty did the math in her head.  “But it takes four times as much carving for four svelte angels as one voluptuous one.  So you would make up the difference in labor.”
 
“You might think so, but the beauty of a svelte angel is in the smooth simplicity of her shape.  The beauty of a voluptuous angel is in the power of each and every feature.  The carver has to shape every part.”
 
“You’re a slippery eel, Cooder.  You’ll tie yourself in slipknots to slither out of the slime you shed before I ever get you to admit that you like svelte women more, won’t you?”
 
Cooder was silent for a moment, then he saw what he was searching for.  He saw through the block to the inside.  “My angels are not women.  They’re female figures cut from wood.  I find them.  I shape them.  You are a real woman.  I love the look, the smell, the feel of you.  I love the sound of you.  You are flesh.  You are spirit.  My angels are none of that.  I set my angels free from the tree that held them.  I never set you free, because you were free before I found you.  You shaped yourself and I cannot improve upon you.  Can I carve now?”
 
Chesty sighed, “Carve all the angels you want.  You sure know how to make slime shine.”

First published: February, 2015
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