Emperor of Birds

The Emperor of Birds fell in love with the Cat,
and the Cat fell in love with Death.
“You will be prince in my palace of trees,
exalted by the iridescent voices of birds,” cried the Emperor.
Death merely, mutely held out his brittle fingers
while the Cat flicked his yellow gaze,
like an open knife, from Death to the Emperor,
from the Emperor to Death.
Then the Emperor invited Death to dance with him
and whispered in the fleshless ear,
“Answer only this and the Cat will be yours.
Into how many fragments can a heart be broken
before it is crushed utterly into dust?”
He pulled Death closer in his heavy embrace,
and Death felt bird wings beating,
dying and rising, over and over again
in the Emperor’s infinite heart
and Death slid away in a rain of ashes
and the Cat leaned into the Emperor
with the silence and delicacy
and bitterness of his love.

Emperor of Birds- detail 1

 

Emperor of Birds- detail 2

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