When entering the room, I could only speak in our old tongue. I shouted against the walls. I shouted at you, Warsaw bird, who seemed to have forgotten. I did not recognise your mouth, which looked less like a mouth and more like a wound that had never been opened. When entering the room, I could only imagine that you would come rushing to me, that perhaps one of us might eat the other as was our old custom. But while the living may eat the living, the dead may eat the dead, it is not so simple when there is one of each. You were dead and you were big. I could not open my mouth to fit you, so I brought you back to life. I carried you gently home.
The neighbours disapproved. Glared at us in the garden, cried abomination through our letterbox. I warned you not to listen, Warsaw bird. Come closer, I cooed, I will plug up your ears with minced beef. Giving one animal the flesh of another barely counts as cannibalisation. That's right, Warsaw bird, barely counts as anything but tenderness, though not the same tenderness which brought us together. Do you remember when I first saw you, crying on your own? When I whispered be still and you let me squeeze you. I squeezed so tightly your eardrums stopped working for a while. It is not tenderness without suffocation – I said that. That was my explanation.
The thing is, I have let things slip down my neck before and the world has stayed safely on its axis. Like pickle juice dripping from the ladle, like your thin tears, my own fat ones, like a man's fingers, like a woman's. Like sweat. But things were different when you spat on my nose, Warsaw bird, when the juice of your mouth rolled down and over my lips, my chin, my clavicle. There was a global shift. It was seismic in the worst way. I should have called you vile bird. I should have called you crow. I watched the trees come crashing down. They broke through the windows, impaled our furniture. They impaled me. I just sat, choking at the table, while branches swung past like wrecking balls. You should not have done that, filth, I said.
Kaylen Forsyth is from Maryport, in Cumbria. She has an MA, with Distinction, in Creative
Writing from the University of Manchester. Her writing focuses on discomfiting landscapes,
the connections – and obsessions – that form between outsiders and the juxtaposition of
absurdity and tenderness within domesticity. She has been published by The Common Breath,
Eunoia Review, 14 Magazine, White Wall Review and Anthropocene.