FROM “The Angel with a Broken Face,” inspired by Cooperstown’s Christ Church.
Stained-glass image is from Christ Church, Cooperstown.
For as I stared, fixed there as surely as if I had been nailed to the spot, the swirling air from the open doors increased in color and in brightness, so that the entire chamber of the room was stained. For the first time I grasped what I should have noticed before, the eerie wailings of the wind, tearing through the yard of stones. Then I heard a sound as if the entire world had been uprooted and disassembled: an immense slow wrenching followed by a complex series of crashes. The perfection of the angel’s face exploded into shards that made, for one instant, a corona around its head. Something struck my face. I heard a voice screaming, tearing like a pennant in a storm. I realized that a branch had smashed through the window; the leaves ripped from the limb like a flock of butterflies, seized and crumpled. The angel’s mildness had been destroyed, shot through by the raw flood of air and the stab of wood. The green mysterious air had entered my lungs, and I seemed hell-bent on expelling it. The noise in my ears increased to a roar as I saw Father Martin rush toward me, his bathrobe flapping behind him. The sanctuary collapsed in black dots; I saw nothing more.