Summer, Watching Angels Fall

Megan Arkenberg

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On humid July nights, the sky would be alive with them,
plunging down like lightning: golden, amber, snake-skin green.
The purple undersides of clouds shone above them and the earth
shuddered at their impact. Then came the parched months,
the cicadas singing out their dry little hearts and they
and angels both clattered against the roof. We never found them
when they landed—only the tracks of their wings in the dust.

You often told me: make a wish, because you knew
better than most how wishing and falling intertwine,
how wings grapple with hope and buffet possibility,
how wanting and gaining and falling for can be
synonymous. A sinner’s wish is always granted.
True enough, until you wish for heaven, for wings so strong
they’ll bear you up against gravity and the wrath of God—

But you never would. You, easy to please with humid nights,
with loveliness and a hint of rebellion, the summer world
was only too ready to give you what you wished for:
a fall like a meteor or a lightning strike,
a moment of stirring illumination before impact.
And I watched you plunge, just another woman who wanted wings,
who wanted you, but outgrew wishing long ago.



Megan Arkenberg lives and writes in Wisconsin. Her work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Asimov's, Lightspeed, and dozens of other places. In 2012, her poem "The Curator Speaks in the Department of Dead Languages" won the Rhysling Award in the long form category. She procrastinates by editing the fantasy e-zine Mirror Dance and the historical fiction e-zine Lacuna.



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