Friday, October 18, 2013

Houou



Encased in wicker crescents and metal scallops
knotted with rope and leather, he stands on the parapet
and gazes out over the valley. When he turns,
his tassels sway and the bronze paulownia leaves chink together.
Below, the horses snort and buck and flatten the grass.
The wind plucks at his mustaches, the plumes adorning
his lacquered scarab helmet.
A crow-shaped hole is cut from the blue paper of the sky.
He paces, clattering like a crustacean, 
face damp and brown beneath the iron grimace.
Across his back is slung a quiver filled with arrows
adorned with feathers plucked
from his own children. He shudders as he thinks
of that other bird, the one he saw reflected in the pool of dream,
where carp flash and pike gleam in the dark water:
the bird he saw last night, when he plunked a stone
into the depths. When the ripples cleared he saw
a silver bird dropping its eggs from a great height.
From each egg hatched a chick with flames for feathers,
with smoky wings that rose to block the sun.
He awoke, his pupils shrunk to blackened skulls,
and leaped from bed, struggled into his armor
and rushed outside, where the crow now alights
on a twisted branch, eying him.
He removes a tiny scroll from his breast,
wraps is around an arrow and sends it flying
right through the black bird's silhouette
to pass beyond into dark, starless space 
where hopefully it will be received and answered
before it's too late.

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