this corpse is full of birds

The Queen Is Dead, by Luke Chueh

This Corpse is Full of Birds

The first was a fledgling, a Jacky Winter launched from the nest on new-found wings to snatch at an insect. His sole flight was a faltering plummet, yet it filled me with envy.

So I scooped him up, and swallowed him whole.

He sang his dissent all the way down, but his claws were tiny, his beak but a stub. His peeping breath tasted of spiders and sap. And then he was down, ensconced inside me, a kernel of sky to warm my heart.

I got a taste for it.

One by one I caught them, these creatures of flight and fancy. The hopping house sparrows; the swooping magpie; the diving butcher bird; the wattlebird who went down with an angry "chok-chok-chok!" Their talons scored my throat, but their feathers soothed the wounds and their song, dawn lullabies and midnight carols, bubbled up like a balm.

Now I'm filled with freedom — which is just feathered frustration.

With every bird I drink it down and my skin grows tauter, straining at the seams with their jostling. They sing inside me of horizons; of yearning; of racing hearts rupturing. They bring me the sky — and it's a vast and bursting thing.

* If you like this story, you can grab a pdf of it from Smashwords or Payhip for free-or-more. And if you'd like to be notified of any new publications, sign up to my newsletter.

One thought on “this corpse is full of birds

  1. I wrote this years ago now, in response to a writing prompt on Jeff VanderMeer's facebook page, and forgot about it until I found it tucked in a corner of my hard drive a couple of days ago. This seems as good a place as any to keep it.

Comments are closed.