Looking up

I stride down Paseo de la Reforma, and gaze up at the Angel of Independence as I wait to cross. The warm winter sun makes her glow, and it softens me.

Angel of Independence, Mexico City

I stare at her. Why is there such sadness on her face when she represents victory, and why she is called an angel when she is not? Still, she’s sitting pretty; she’s climbed almost 10 meters, while we keep sinking into what used to be a lake underneath. It must be her wings.

I wonder if she’s actually hollow on the inside, like the staircase she stands on. Surely it would have been more practical? She was cast in bronze and bathed in gold, in true style, in Florence, all deserving of a goddess. Plus, someone’s ego needed to be filled.

Did Porfirio Diaz suspect that she would herald the revolution and his downfall so shortly after she was hoisted onto her rebuilt base in 1910? Those were troubled times, even for this winged deity. The sides of her monument collapsed before she could even set foot on them, as her tower grew in height.

Though she looks down with a cold air of sternness, a picture of strength, she’s had some falls of her own. She was once toppled in an earthquake in the fifties; all seven tonnes of her came crashing down. She was beheaded, dismembered, but in time, restored. Looking at her now, it’s a secret she keeps well.

Below her, a lion walks calmly behind a child, but she sits far overhead this scene of peace and strength. She’s arched high above us all, while her dark truths, the bones of history, rest below her in a mausoleum. No one consulted her about it, maybe that’s why she looks so desolate. Her soul is as tainted as the rest of us mortals’.

Angel of Independence, Mexico City

She faces downtown, and what a view she must have, of the jacaranda-lined streets in the spring, with all of Reforma’s lights and glory; shiny skyscrapers dotted between buildings that have been standing for longer than she has.

Perhaps she can even spot the Caballito, Little Horse, in distant pastures; its canary yellow metal is hard to miss.

Conscious or not of her equine companion, she marks victory and celebration with stoic indifference. She’s carrying a heavy burden, I can tell. Although she is winged, she has something pulling her down, something keeping her hoisted onto that column. Otherwise, she would have taken flight a long time ago.

But, she is a giver of something that she cannot claim. She pulls us up, interrupting the pull between our noses and the pavement. She gets us to look up for a moment, and even if it is for very briefly, between one stride and the next, to float above it all.

LatinAmerican Post | Engeli Haupt

Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto 

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