Emelie Pennington-Davis

Emelie Pennington-Davis is a junior English and Psychology major from the tiny town of White Salmon, Washington. In their free time, they love to re-watch the Lord of the Rings, dance badly to Queen, and explain gender as a social construct to local squirrels and crows. 

Paradise Found

How do you make an angel?

Start with sunshine.

Add smiles and a certain spacious sadness,

Give them calloused feet and angled hands,

Compound with wings lace-feathered like a gull

And tell them that they will never use them.

How do you make an angel?

Add a longing for a place beyond the blue of the horizon

Add longing for a girl with eyes darker than the sea

Add longing for the rasp of a rebel yell ripping their throat

Add longing to love and lips meant to try

Add the sight of the sky and then tell them no.

How do you make an angel?

With nothing but caring cruelty. 

Wait until their back is turned

Slide thorned branches like barbedwire,

The same branches that once crowned a king,

Around their wings so softly they can’t say no.

Watch as their young wings yearn to write across the sky

Their skin and bones shrivel as they try to contain the sun

Until binding wood and burning flesh grow 

into each other in a sap-slick, blood-soaked symbiosis

Then watch their eyes go wide and wild

Watch them fling themselves from the edge of their concrete cliff-side nest

Watch them fall

Wait until they see the rocks that offer the same mercy as you

And they wrench themselves free.

How do you make an angel?

Why, the same way you make a demon.

They are not Icarus, they are too soft, too certain to lunge for the sun

And so instead see them launch themselves into the rain

The wheeling whirl of liquid iron slanting downwards

Slashing across their face like a benediction

Filling their mouth when they scream joy into the wind.

Watch them fly.

Watch until them strike themselves out of the sky

Because they’ve never had control, not the way they need it now,

Because the feathers they left fletching the spears of thorn

Will never grow back.

Watch them plummet

Like the dying star the sun will someday become

wings wet, lungs aching

Breaking the bowl of the sky like the bones of their body,

Down through white and grey and blue

through the grasping branches 

Until finally they shatter onto the cruel dichotomy of sharp rock, soft moss


Wait for the century it will take for them to breathe again.

And when they bleed colors they never thought was possible:

A rainbow, a blessing after a storm

Watch them smile.