Size / / /

By the time we became birds

it was already too late. You still bled—

you might not have, but you kept poking

at your lost tongue with your fingers, as if

pulling at your mouth might pull it back.

And I—I had already lost

so much more than a tongue.

I would like to lie, to tell you

it was all for you. Your idea,

after all: my child in payment

for your tongue. Your hands

lighting the flame.

In the heat, my vision shimmers.

I thought it would be different, as a bird.

I would like to lie, to tell you

I never loved, or thought I loved—

a honeyed image is still sweet.

If only it had all been for you.

We shake in the winds. Birds have short lives,

I chirp at you, but you shake your head.

I cannot understand your speech,

nor you mine. We huddle over our eggs,

holding our wings against the wind.

I see the shadow of his flight.

Your song quivers in the rain.

Mari Ness worships chocolate, words, and music, in no particular order. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in Clarkesworld, Apex Magazine, Daily Science Fiction, Goblin Fruit, and previously at Strange Horizons, among other places. You can find a longer list of her work at, or follow her on Twitter at mari_ness.
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