With branch and root and raining mirrors down all the doors in cavesnakings down the clouds the cliffs the creeks where floratubes thump satin blood in purple petals spinning and sticking between the stones a clack a click a coughing ONA sounded sick when SHE woke. Curled up beside her clicking inlet little ONA rose and coughed and sank to sigh. Kolorina spoke in clack and splash and knocked a code inside her skull to creep into the saving waters. Slipping over ledge and step and wandering rock SHE met her mirrors in the black Adriatic. ONA sat and splashed and streamed into the surging tide at last a gasp escaped her lips and leapt across the living cliffs invisible ripples gasping back a map of Tvrđava Bokar and environs like a clicking bat aware of every crook and dove above the trembling surface SHE stood and chirped. A colony of birds awoke and flapped out from fort to fort to find their calling. SHE circled her totems and shouldered their sum, duck head stuffed between an Alice e As Máscaras, bamboo stick in hand and sliding over limestone, broad leaves, blue wings and tarsi, pinecone spirals, eighteen steps, a drawbridge opening onto smooth slabs of roman stone alone in the square SHE dipped her tin into the domed fountain and drank until SHE couldn’t. Street cats led her round the corner where SB’s bronze dome flickered open the first words of the coming sun «broke poems uprumbling» and every pigeon in the old city slowly encircled the girl with the black wings peeking out of her black dress, tips kissing her calves before SHE hid again her gift again away SHE strode through annuli of calling birds they stepped aside and wobbled after their fledgling queen from square to square in tiny streets leading up to a thousand steps with pots and dogs and double-black doors mirrored along either side until a t at the top turned into a tower. They scattered over tier and terrace cooing and bowing under six-fold belltones. ONA cooed and coughed and waited for the fortress walls to echo back in volleyed barks they barked her cough SHE coughed again a bark again a dog this time atoning. Climbing up the stacks of stones ONA barked and chirped and spiraled out onto the city walls where razorwings carve stanzas into the pious clouds SHE saw the wheeling heart cancel the crops. Under a seedless sky SHE sat down to sketch the circles. Glass gears spun lucent prisms round her heads and hands painting over pencil strokes SHE was the wheel.
ONA gave her latest circlescapes to Ana. Ana held them high and sang a stream and served her soup and juice and pastries to start. Pizza, ziti, mountains of parmesan. But while ONA spooned the last of her stracciatella, Ana rushed by to roll out the awning overhead. Above it, dark poems broke open. Round mirrors came rumbling down to puddle the stones. Shelter seekers started filing into café tables round her table rancid sounds and smells spilled out of their bodies bumping and coughing and fighting to claim a covered corner of ulica Palmotićeva packing in from wall to wall and pressing still pressing the hot air bending brown green grey bodies began to wheeze and gasp and drop and bleed between the stones in many little swirling rivers merging vomit, pilsner, bird shit, black blood black feathered again SHE fought the thought to fly to flee the human flock screeching ONA looped a mask from ear to ear to hide her beak and barked a click a chirp a cough SHE rose and kraa’d to clear a path. When Ana returned the girl was gone and in her place the Page of Wands with wings and a word painted in pink across the wandering sky «DOM» whispered Ana framing the card in hand and scanning the scene for solvent or binder, any tertiary trace to tell her what or where or how.
Three wet feathers pointed north toward the tower.
Atop Tvrđava Minčeta ONA could see every tiled rooftop in Dubrovnik winking back as SHE painted sixty breathing blue brown eyes on her feet and face before SHE leapt.
Streetlamps popped open amberspheres all up the circuit «kraa!» SHE called «kraa-kraa!» the crowds looked up but all they saw were flash and blur till feathers came falling black feathers in windowing helices aflutter a flap and atflapst SHE cleared the walls and rode the tangling winds awakening.
Jesse Kominers lives in Mokošica, Croatia, with Morgan & Elsa. Jesse’s work has appeared in SHARKPACK Annual, Burnside Review, Meat for Tea, Thrice Fiction, & elsewhere.