Tendrils Wound Feathers

it was never him

I swear, I’m not lying‒ I didn’t mean anything by it.
I simply lit a spark under firewood.
He came to life, jumping to me faster than he should,
jumping at the match I put to him, rippled with cracked skin.

He then draped himself about me, yellow and yearning.
But I insisted I had to return to the steps just outside the hearth,
my life was waiting for me, the ground of my earth-
The cat there was sleeping, but still breathing.

He let me go, reluctant, as I flew without him.
Flung into next week, whirlwinds broke my bones,
too tired to lift a talon, to call his presence with hushed tones.
The breath was beaten out of my wings, my limbs.

But he waited that week, dulled down to embers.
He sent a lick of flame to flick a quill off my back, now lightly.
I startled, flitted back, scratching the floor boards in apology.
He forgave me, pulled me closer than shine on brass, I remember.

I was timid, but he listened, said speak up, my voice was finally pretty.
I circle him, fanning oxygen as I evaded him, his flint‒
By the skin of my beak! He holds me, scorches my downy thin.
Pure ash, crumbled atop my chest‒ he’s marked me already.

But the cat! My cat has me by its claws, I struggle to keep his grasp.
I’m pulled from him, burns and all, but he’s the sun!
He’s in the sky! What can I do but follow? Our days aren’t done‒
He rose from a chimney, three hours into the blue, radiant bliss at last.

I’m skipping through air, trailing wisps of his coattails, no fear.
I’m burned and it hurts, but he’s only light‒ my light!
Soon black falls and he rumbles behind a mountain, out of sight.
He’ll rise again tomorrow morning, just wait right here.

And so I wait, I look up‒ he’s saved the moon’s faces for me!
Muttered words float on star dust as he sleeps in a cavern,
trails of light snaking from him, it is him, his voice is scattered,
deep, reckoning... I’m the only one in his dreams.


When he wakes, he’s smaller, damper, tamer than days before.
He was barred from slipping words under watchful mountains.
The best I can do is sing from a former window, again and again.
He’s moved on from the cabin, but he says I’m no bore.

Days passed and I flicked feathers off scars to behold.
Nestled deep, with pine as my bed, his reflection above me, last night...
“Show me your back. But it’s scarred! You know I can’t see you, it’s moonlight‒”
“But‒ Just turn over your coat, expose yourself to the cold…!”


More days passed, and he fails to send his loving rays.
Instead he leveled the ground with formed gravity, magma cavities,
wallowing without my softened talons to at least lift him, help him breathe‒
He needed some closure, in the body of someone who wants to stay.

I could see the chasms stretch, watching as he widened them.
I would fly any length to at least know how deep they run!
I’m tethered to an earth he wants to cut, sharp not blunt.
I see his destruction from a swath of land for me, but he’s yet to rend‒

He doesn’t see me anymore, caught up in his own clouded skies.
I’m wailing on the ground below, but with bated breath! I’m not desperate.
He peeks from behind red vapor, offering a wind to send,
and again I’m called up to fan some tail feathers for his eyes.


It’s no longer warm. My feathers have blackened, not paled in comparison.
He doesn’t watch my slumber, no more star set trail,
no moon, no thunder, just his silence and his exhale.
In the pit of the mountains, he’s weaker than my skeleton.


Wait‒ He’s finally broken! He lashed out at the ground beneath my feet!
Oxygen consumed, he was imbued with it, central to his own star.
The lack of words was my fault, and I let him get this far,
Dragging emptiness between each phrase, skipping many beats.

About to burn under his collapse, I realize I fed my beast with silence…
I was afraid of him leaving. No‒ It was him I feared.
I fed his thundering, roiling, crackling, lusting for sin, I'm seared‒
I refused to let him die, hoping against it, innocent.

I was huddled in the hearth he built, the pit of it.
Burned down to the last bone,
Burned to the same cold in his core. He burns alone.
I revel in the ashes. I’m not someone to sever it.


From those same ashes, I lose a final cry, and it rings.
He hears me but doesn’t stoop down or swoop away, let me‒
Help me breathe, no oxygen saved, but please don’t let me‒
I’m a canary bird that can no longer sing. home return