Attic apartment, birds nesting between roof-tiles, I hear them scratch and I hear them cry. The rustle of their mother’s wings, the quiet sounds of sacrifice and hunger, these pink-fleshed chicks inherit their parent’s strength and swallow it down with clacking beaks, I hear the slow devour of motherhood, the gentle expansion of growing wings sprouting feathers.
My bed-sheets awash with haze, outside the city shivers in the winter air and gathers itself into suits, newspapers, morning commutes, polite conversation and I watch the sun catch my ceiling with unblinking stares, prying its way across the room, frothing up tidal at the edges of my bed and always stopping short. Shadows turn to grey and I listen to the birds feed, the birds cry, the birds quivering with hunger that runs deeper than stomachs. Somewhere, far from the dull ache of my head, the weight of my ribs, my stomach sinks with quicksand slowness, swallowing up every ounce of stale atmosphere, black hole rippling amidst a swirl of useless organs. I too have a hunger that runs deeper still than sustenance. It makes mouths out of my palms, it digests my legs with acidic tongues, I watch the ceiling painted like moon-flesh by refracted light, I feast on it with swollen eyes.
Sometimes, street cleaners whir past eight floors below, I have forgotten what leaf litter smells like. I imagine the brushes as fibrous teeth, scraping enamel on concrete plates, swallowing up streets and cities and sweet leaf litter with the same kind of fervour as I am devouring myself in a rotting room, suspended under an act of martyrdom in three parts. Sometimes, a door clicks and locks down the corridor, sometimes the light swell of music wafts up through the floors with rosewood vapours. I devour that too, ears ravenous, stomach spinning under the weight of a terrible gravity.
I belong to a hungry thing inside me, as the birds pick apart their mother’s throat, the lining of her plum belly. And I devour myself in a silent apartment, stale and still, the city stretching and shivering, bones extending, feathers ripening, the city and the birds expand above and below me with eyeless desire, driven by hunger, fuelled by cruel glories and sanguine love. And I am hungry too, cannibalistic martyr crucified by my own tongue, my own silver teeth.
Spring comes quietly, hesitant and coy as the city swallows the last dregs of winter down, as the birds above begin to tentatively flap their wings, their mother a collection of indigestible pieces rattling between the roof-tiles. And I slip numb traces of distant toes into that gasping gaping maw and cough spitting up smaller bones still. There are some things even hunger cannot stomach.
I remember, in warmer days where I was bloated with rich wine and richer love still, reading about shamans tossing ox bones into great fires, seeing catastrophe or salvation in the cracks therein. I have no fires, and I have no skill, but I watch the pile of enamel shards grow and try to pick out omens from their arrangement. It is your face, it is always your face, my love. I pressed my hunger into your palms with all the affection of devotion but your morsel kisses, the crumbs you shook from your fists could never sustain. And god your lips were thick marmalade, your skin peach and gold, your eyes pitted cherries. Voracious, your love made me voracious, and you should have known the beast you hatched would sprout wings laced with your most prized feathers.