You looked so soft. Your feathers shamed the snow loitering about the grass. We watched you from behind the door. You stood under the hedge, staring at the remains of our snowman. You challenged him. You stared that guy down as he melted, and I sipped coffee as I watched you stand in the garden. The children went to school as the sun came up and you went to sleep under the hedge. We were so honored that you had chosen to rest under our protection. I watched you sleep there all day, checked on you as I rinsed the dishes and filled my glass with water. I kept tabs on your glow white form, so solid and beautifully deadly with those talons that lay curled beneath you where you slept. “Don’t touch her,” we said. “She will slice you open.” You were to be left undisturbed. The sun was tall and straight as a cowboy. The snowman slouched and fell. I swept the floor. I made some calls. I drove away to bring everyone home. I could see your small blank figure like a stone beneath a wave. You slept on. I did not want to miss you wake. I drove fast. We strained to find you as we returned. We piled through the door and held each other back so as not to startle you with our silence behind the glass. You remained. The sun took a step. Talitha cumi. We made tea and changed clothes and clicked on the television. I could barely see you sleep through the glare of my kitchen lights on the glass. The snowman had no head now, but he held his ground. You should have moved. You did not move. The sun changed guard and left you. Was that not your cue? I turned off the lights. I stood in the dark. I cupped my hands around my eyes and pressed my face to the cold glass. I only saw darkness and my breath crawling up the surface. It’s time to wake up. Arise. I sent one of us out to wake you. A cautious approach. A tentative touch. A lowered eye. Talitha cumi! “Do we have a shovel?” I did not like the question. You did not arise. Disintegration was your last act as huntress. The hedge was a line of shapes from above, a drawing, a map to rest. You took your prize. You defeated the man we built with no act of violence. Your talons clutched at the earth as you stepped beneath the rising labyrinth of vines, twigs, thorns and branches—a forest set about growing by order of an angry queen. Something was missing. A magic. A gunfight. A miracle. I felt the top of my head for a crown but found only my sunglasses. I had forgotten to take them off and now it was dark and they were unnecessary. I did not know you were dead when I put them over my eyes as I left. We waited for dawn and the daylight to dig your new rest. It would be at the edge of the field. Under the apple tree. You would have the expanding sky above you. You were beautiful and mighty beneath the hedge because you were only sleeping. You will be beautiful and restored beneath the sky because you are not dead.
Christina Rauh Fishburne has an MFA from the University of Alabama and currently lives in England. Her work has appeared in Waterwheel Review, Hash Journal, Ekphrastic Review, and others. She blogs at ChristinaRauhFishburne.com and is working on a novel.