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by Brian Morse

The woods, having never seen an albatross, offered a collective bow to the impossible visitor. Beyond the darkness, coastlines crashed under the weight of our king’s arrival. He lurched out of the owl’s tree hollow and welcomed me inside.

A robin’s nest held a small fire in place. We soaked in the warmth, bathed in the flickering yellow. Centuries of war had darkened his eyes. The albatross stoked the fire with a hemlock bough, and from the flames an apparition appeared: human birth and freshly turned earth. He nudged me closer to the fire with a stiff wing. I was a guest in his palace.

The hollow quaked as a violent wind kicked up outside.

The king plucked limbs from my now frozen corpse. A sweet fragrance swirled from the fire. He offered me my left arm to eat, but I declined, and requested a burial at sea.

The woods and oceans rattled their swords in a jagged dance toward oblivion. The ground below turned over, earthworms working the soil, their labor like plows for miles. Fire licked the horizon.

And when the albatross set down to dream, my limbs washed in. My arms like rotten driftwood, stuck swirling in the wake. My legs sewn into the newly birthed surf, ever anchored to the rise and fall of the ocean’s tide.

Brian Morse is the author of Migration (Pski’s Porch, 2016). His work has appeared in Akashic Books, Shotgun Honey, X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine and elsewhere. He can be found online at brian-morse.com and on Twitter @vertigothrush.