Death by Owls
Edward Kim

Bird figures lined the path -- fifteen different species.
F-stops caught the flow. The Architect dragged herself
across the rocks. An acolyte salted the rim of her ear with laurels.
Crones swooped down, scavengers, picked them out. But
after her, there is no one left, cried the acolyte.

Wall-eyed birds and birds-of-paradise opened the cathedral.
They picked out their feathers -- sarcastically, apparently --
cast them quill-first. None of them stuck,
the Architect already shielded, feathered.

Careful where you strut, they said. The room tasted of fish.

Frustrated sunlight fractured the congregation in shards.
Priestesses came, folding her in their white-robed arms.
Wait for us in the front, they said and pointed.

Saltwater leaked out of her headdress, and fingers, sheathed
in obsidian, grappled the first pew. On the other side of the stage,
scored with scratchmarks, a person-sized cell. They called it
the Aviary.

Between the boles, coniferous and cold,
the poles of the priestesses obliged her inside.

Her face, it would be told later -- often before children slept --
played the part more than expected, actually.
She was surprising herself, they saw.

Priestesses untethered the Architect's skirt. Everyone present
saw the aberration, the withered sac behind a pendulum of flesh,
a darker head poking out.

A switch was flipped. A storm of feathers. The sound inside
did not die in afterthought. Talons screeched across the bars.
A nocturnal bird's face emerged from the Aviary,
cast its eyes on the statued gathering.

Then it flew back into the digestion.