The sea rose up to leap and buck like a frothing beast,
spraying her cold spittle across the deck
and crashing her arms to sweep it clean.
Men scrambled to keep themselves secured,
to open hatches
and close them again.
A shrill, helpless noise
and I turned away from the rail
my fingers ached from clutching,
turned my head to the sliver of sea still visible beyond a rattling doorway.
Mountains of water rose up,
peaks climbing in gut-wrenching heaves
taller and deeper than snow-teeth spires.
The ship perched aloft on a roaring crest,
wind screaming and snapping
across every plank and tied-shut sail.
I stared past the stinging spray
To a yellow light pulsing like a heartbeat
folded inside a mountainous wave.
My ears roared with the sound of my heartbeat,
and the world seemed silent in comparison.
Like sparks igniting across wool,
yellow pulses bled outward
across something huge,
veining and outlining the shape of vast wings that encircled the horizon.
They pulled apart,
and the water sucked downward in their absence.
I felt my stomach drop as the ship dropped into the chasm left behind.
hands gripping impossibly tighter,
screams rising up around me as the ship plummeted.
a golden head churning up out of the sea,
water sluicing off
an avian face
whipped with jagged, star-bright scars
Bleeding light out between each feather.
And harsh golden rays cast razor-edged shadows
behind every splinter and pore.
The air split with thunder as its wings
to fill the sky.
I could feel it vibrating the wood beneath my fingers,
Could feel it in my clenched jaw,
halfway to gagging as it
through my lungs.
The bird’s bright light-veins suddenly sucked
up and inward,
flowing into its brow.
Between one breath and the next, the world went black.
The sky was a void of
dark rain and
Then, the eye opened.
There was a half-breath
and in it I could see two suns waking.
see each feathery lash,
see sparks and oozing gold bubbling down its cheeks like molten metal,
like living hands reaching out for freedom.
All at once, thick ropes of lightning lanced out.
A black shadow of wings was cast across the clouds above.
Fingers of light flashed,
illuminating the silhouetted shapes of
whales below and and
pinpricks of fish schools,
Jagged energy branching out and out
in an endless net of light and heat
and a whip-crack so sharp that