Sunday, July 29, 2012

Feather Child

Feather Child 1 - Lucy Glendinning

                                                            "Feather Child"

He promised that it wouldn’t hurt.

I said yes. Of course I did. What mother wouldn’t want to give her child wings?

There had been flaws in the process before. Wax was a lightweight medium, and a sacred one, but prone, too prone to melting. You know the story of the boy who fell from the sky.

That would not be my son, I swore it.

Has there ever been a mortal who swore anything, who did not hear the gods laugh as the vow was made?

Feathers do not grow from underneath the skin of human children, nor do wings burst through their back. Feathers must be placed in their new home, anchored in skin, fed by the blood that runs beneath.

He promised that it wouldn’t hurt.

But I heard my son, my child, weep as the feathers were set in place. Not with wax, but with words. Fiat. Made flesh. I hardened my heart, because this is what was must do, if we want our children to fly. We must be hard. We must hear them weep, and not dry their tears.

Becoming hurts. Growth does not come without pain. Still, I am weak, and I turned away. I did not watch.

When it was finished, the inventor called me back in. Something had gone wrong, he said. Not with the process, no, that had worked perfectly. My son was covered with feathers. He was beautiful. He was dead.

Curled in against himself as he had been when I carried him, this was a birth that had gone still. There would be no flight. Forever earthbound, he would not go any nearer the sun. There is only even one ending to this.

He promised that it wouldn’t hurt.


  1. "Becoming hurts."

    Why so brilliant, Kat?

    1. Thank you. It means a lot to me that you like it.

  2. Speechless.

    Jus one question, and one I almost fear asking - does that have anything to do with your writing process?

    1. If you mean on a metaphorical level, no. On a literal level, I often write brief pieces as warm up exercises, to get my brain into writing mode.

      And thank you.

  3. That image reminds me of Voldemort's ultimate fate: left under a bench in an imaginary railway station. Not pleasant.

    Still, when I first saw the poem, my first reaction was 'What is man, that thou art mindful of him?' It's a psalm, but also the title of an Asimov story about two robots contemplating this question wrt how best to interpret the 'three laws'.

    The message I take away is, yes, it's perilous to meddle with powers you don't fully understand. It's also perilous not to use them.

    Heavy load.

    I'll leave the final word to a bitter-sweet chapter of Gunnerkrigg Court (apart from the title, the relevance comes clear at the end*)

    *(As does being asked to prove I'm not a robot by capcha!! ;-)