“Death and Mercy” by Kim Malinowski

She wasn’t a phoenix,

but she knew ash.

She painted herself with coals,

with cinders.

War paint disguising

the woman of the woods.

She felt knighted, 

unable to cry out against wars.

So, she became part of them.

Wearing ash and charcoal

she slipped into campsites,

brought with her destruction.

Invading soldiers couldn’t see her.

She merged with the night,

but her eyes glinted beneath the moon,

as she tended the wounded.

She placed embers and herbs,

soothed their brows.

Crooned lullabies in their languages,

helped dying men die faster.

She was war and retribution.

She was charcoal

waiting for a spark.


Kim Malinowski earned her B.A. from West Virginia University and her M.F.A. from American University. She studies with The Writers Studio. Her chapbook Death: A Love Story was published by Flutter Press. Her work was featured in Faerie Magazine and appeared in Mythic Delirium, Mookychick, Eternal Haunted Summer, and others.

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