White bird, I see you soaring. I want to see you climb. My fingers clench and pull back quickly on an imaginary flight stick. You don’t seem to respond, or at least your response is not quick. Then, gradually, your tail drops. Your body starts to lean back, just a couple degrees, until all motion stops. You freeze and float in place, lounging lazily on the breeze.
And for a while, you linger there, inert,
but fix your senses to survey the skies.
A beat. Another beat. And now a third.
Your body tenses, lively now, alert.
A sudden stream of heat you must have heard
grabs hold of you, and finally, you rise.
I feel my spine arch and yawn,
stretch and lengthen.
My shoulder blades roll back and down until they crack like two massive knuckles. Staccato bass notes: KA-POW!
And just like that, with no further ceremony, my arms are wings. My fingers bend and curl into a tight fist, so tight they snap and bleed. My fist opens flat, my fingers spread out flat and multiply into a thousand feathery things.
The air is getting colder, and it stings.
We are too high now.
We’ve never felt such a climb. Wow.
Our vision dulls.
Our mouth is dry now.
We’re losing pressure fast.
We’re gonna die now.
We bend and crane our neck to find
the jagged, dim horizon line,
which turns and tumbles, bobbing left and right.
There are no lines, just spirals whirling spirals.
What happens when the air’s too thin to breathe?
I feel your mind shout.
“Why don’t we find out?”
Our inner ears, they throb, and then ignite.
Explosive pain. The torture of new sight.
I did not do this.
the distant ocean settles into view.
we’re headed to that place where blue meets blue.
we navigate a path on our own terms.
we dive and swoop and gather our own worms.
we grind them down with pebbles in our beaks
and, satisfied, can go without for weeks.
we never plan. we never reminisce.
we eat, we shit, we sunbathe, and we preen.
we never have to worry, just exist.
i wonder where we sleep, and if we dream.
where did i live before my mind was your mind?
and was there time before my time was your time?
and how much has elapsed?
i used to know the answers, but forgot.
we see an object resting on the shoreline.
a wrinkled body, featherless and porcine.
it seems to have collapsed.
we fly away and leave it there to rot.