The King of Birds paints the last of his feathers by the open window. Tonight he’s going for something a bit old fashioned. Tonight his wife dressed him as a cormorant.
She’s standing behind him, sighing over the bathtub. She twists a knob in the porcelain bowl. The water steams. The water rises. It bubbles as it flows over the white lip. Boiling over bathroom tile and bedroom carpet. Down three flights of stairs and out the front door.
Soon the surrounding neighborhood is flooded. It is an ocean. The houses unmoored. We drift like lost sailors, quiet and sullen. Lulled into a stupor. Half-asleep and wholly unaware. The glow of late night TV lingers in a few stray windows. Lights pin-pricking the water. Like a kind of strange upside down starlight. Like angler fish peeking upward from the deep.
And if you feel a rumble pass through your bed, and up to your bones, no it is not thunder. It is the King of Birds. The hour is late, and his belly is empty, and tonight his wife dressed him as a cormorant.
She built his beak to pierce the waves.
His poor wife, God bless her, has such trouble sleeping. She cries when he leaves her through the open window. She cries until dawn, when he returns. She cries through her pillow, stuffed with his spares feathers. She even cries through her dreams — both the good and the bad ones — after she finally manages to go quiet, and works her way down into a fitful sleep.
But the crying is what the King of Birds, his wingspan covering two whole sunken subdivisions, loves best about her.
He finds her tears bring out the subtler flavors.
A pinch of salt placed in this wide newborn sea.