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Fallen by Kim Malinowski

In the fifteenth century, the Cardinal Bishop of Tusculum said there were 133,306,668 fallen angels. He was wrong. There were 133,306,669 fallen angels—that plus one was me. This is not about a plummet to Earth, like a meteor to a mountain. Yehova did not cast me out like the others. I went.

Free will. Knowledge. I knew what I wanted. Thought I knew. I knew wrong from right after all. HE was wrong—or perhaps, I was blinded? HE brushed my cheek with what humans might see as lips and took what became my hand. Permission? I cannot say. I fell. Long and soft, drifting melancholy. My shape became corporeal as I found dust beneath me—suddenly standing. There was dirt. I had never felt dirt—nor silt or ash. Granules clinging, sifting gently through hands and hard under my now formed feet. There was a tangy mist. I tasted brine—my first tears sliding down cheeks. I found smells of awe and reverence. I felt lungs expanding, and I began my journey—it led straight to Her.

It was not lust. It was not because the “sons of God/Elohim”—I guess that was me? saw “that daughters of men were beautiful” as it is written in Genesis 6. No, she was rather ordinary. Plump, dirty face, hair to waist—typical of man. What is beauty to an angel? But, by all that is Holy and all Unholy, her eyes captured me—her words propelled me down to the Earth. I heard Her cadence now, not HIS. I was no comet, no meteor. My essence was a shooting star—my wings somewhere between raven and butterfly, between shadow and moon.

Fallen angels are written as brutes. Angry, fists to Heaven—vile hatred. I make no man or woman betray HIM—but I did not worship HIM either. HE was deaf to my pleas—my songs—my cries.

She was created from both sunlight and moonlight—now that I have seen them, I am sure of it. She spoke in hush, but all could hear her tales, her rhyme—her wisdom. I became the disciple of Her. She sang new songs. I was ensnared every night by the new tales she wove. And in truth, Her kiss was as knowledgeable as her stories. She broke me into pieces and folded my wings. I posed as man—I had no halo. But by Her command I loved her.

HE would not have ordained our wedding, so we bound ourselves in ribbons and vines—wrapped ourselves in gentleness, rapture, what might be called love, but so much more compassionate. All the while, we whispered our stories. There was no mention of the divine.

Our daughter came giggling, finding rapture in creation, already bouncing with glimmer of her own stories. The Angel of Death whisked her from us at three years old. He had known me Above—still he could offer no comfort. Not even to an old friend. This is what I had chosen. Pain. Ripping of soul, flesh. I learned what sobbing was—that brine acidic now. She and I still worshiped each other. There was always heaviness in our shoulders, tightness in our chests, but in a few years, another child came.

This girl. This woman—was the daughter of angel and human. How could she not be all grace and awe. She played with the other children, tended to land and animals. She was wed and left me. Journeyed without me. I learned what distance meant. Out of reach. Not forgotten. Left behind. Her mother died wrapped tightly in my arms. She told me that fallen angels were doomed—could not hear HIS words—cursed—but that Hers would always be with me. Tender balm. Then, she left. No shooting star. Just absence. She ascended—journey where I could not follow—I had given up HIS grace for Hers.

I walked. One step after burial. Then, another…small one. Yehovah did not tell me of soul betrayal. That my body would ache and want to tear itself apart. Emotions too great to bear, but that must be endured as scars—forever. I was not to die—but man did…he never told me that the daughters of man faded into dust. The type that blows in hot, dry wind, raging or cooing. No alternative. Aloneness was wrapped in a broken halo. I did not know where I was going. Earth is big—many places to lose oneself. I did not know this then. I set off to find myself. I was a pilgrim. I studied language and architecture, textiles, and clay. I hunted meat and berries. All the while, I searched for the meaning of the divine. HIS? Hers? Mine?

My wings were of midnight stars, trailing behind in shame, sometimes with pride. I let them loose only in darkness or calamity. I showed them to no one. And I laid and loved with no others—no man or woman. I was true to Her.

My children were scattered—generations now—made of love and my great Fall. Far away. I was of distant, unknowable past. They would not know me. Not even so close. They would not recognize folded wings—I was a simple, dusty pilgrim weary from the day’s march. I slipped in at dusk and was generously given a mat and cover, cool water to wash with.

I heard old hymns—Hers. I whispered them curled in my bedding. I found Her in dreams—rouged cheeks, kohl lined eyes—our marriage veil gone. She whispered to me until morning. Was I home? Among angel maidens and dusty angel men. Our cheekbones were the same, our noses. Grief doesn’t fade. I saw Her in everyone—Her hair clumped and curly—Her mouth—Her laugh—Her wail. My daughters and sons were rich in verse around fires.

I tasted myrrh, jasmine on the breeze. Honey on tongue—I sang HIS song. Low canter in the hush, wings unfurling. HE had graced me. Gave me precious treasures and memories—so many imperceptible memories. My wings cast shadows on the sun. I fell to my knees singing HIS songs. Her hymns. Oh, love—that is worship. Love. Not wings. Not flying, not feathers, not the moon, or the waters, not painted lips or kohled eyes—just soothing warmth as balm to malice.

Love does not save from Pestilence. Love does not save from Yehovah’s Angel of Death, nor does it steal away grief. Time continues its march—but the beat changes, takes off, the heart races. Love dazzles, worthy of any worship service, of any sacrifice. It costs nothing to love, and it costs everything.

I am not counted with the Fallen, because unlike them, I found love. I found my way without malice or vengeance. I found my way by woman, by heartbeat. I gave up my wings. Now, I took them back—perhaps was given them back by HIM? By Her? I pounded them against the air. I found I no longer needed them. I slid into ether as if I was breeze—left dusty cloth behind as only proof of existence.

My children’s children’s children still look for me on clear, bright nights. They survived the Great Flood. They did not perish, because they sang Her songs of HIM and my blood ran within them. They were good. They were love. They learned from my Fall.

I sang of the earth’s bounties. The bounties of the earth HE had made. They were glorious—breathtaking. I sang of Her. HE had known and made Her for me and me for Her. Did I save anyone? Perhaps, only through my blood. No, that’s false. I saved our children, our children’s children—my Fall was their assent. I gave them love and faith through my long journey. I was saved though, by Her and my children. By love itself. By HIM. I journeyed Heaven as I journeyed Earth. And then, I ascended and was given back grace and hope. I sang HIS songs and Her songs. I found my way back to HIM. And through that I found my way back to Her.

She had ascended long before me. Even here, she is moonbeam and sunlight. I am angel and she spirt, but we sing together of love—both the divine—and our own quiet worship.


Kim Malinowski is a lover of words. Her collection Home was published by Kelsay Books and her verse novel (retired) Clutching Narcissus was published by Twelve House Books. Her verse novel Phantom Reflection was published by Silver Bow Publishing. Her latest collection The Fool’s Journey was published by Vraeyda Literary. Her chapbook “Death: A Love Story” was published by Flutter Press. She has a forthcoming verse novel We Could Be Lovers from Nightingale & Sparrow Press. She was nominated for the Rhysling Award and for Best of Net. She writes because the alternative is unthinkable.

Author's note

I cannot say where this story truly came from. I write what I “must” write. A journal was calling for a year of angel stories and I do not believe in angels. So, as a good Goth girl, one must write about a “bad” angel slant. I did not start off to journey through books, lore, and religious texts. I could not leave my house and visit my grandmother’s grave because of the lockdown during the pandemic. Somehow, that ache mattered. Grief that cannot be expressed except by breaking laws has a taste. And I broke the laws. I went. I did not know if I would fall next. I had lost my cousin and I needed to talk to my grandmother because I might never have the chance to do so alive again. I loved a person and could not show it or go to them—could not protect them from the “Angel of Death.” So, I wrote. Many call it poetic prose because I am primarily a poet. I wrote this tone specifically because it mimics many Biblical texts including the Old Testament and Torah—the glorious Psalms. It might be poetic—but it is intentional and many of my other stories read like traditional prose narratives. I could not write about angels and not have a bit of hymn in their text.