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../ ]  [N/09.01.28] [ How To by Aaron Burch ] + [ ∞ ]

how to 1

How To

Be pure. Be Icarus and Dionysus both. Look into the face of others and ask – with your wings and with your eyes – for their pain. And when they offer up their suffering, their sorrow and grief, heartache and sadness, take it all into your mouth, your beak, and hold tight but careful like a stork carrying a baby. Bundle it all together and carry it away, up toward the sun, continuing toward the heat with a pureness of heart. Let it overtake you, let the sun burn the gift you’ve brought. Let it burn you as well, if it must. Sacrifice.

How To

Remember the myth of looking directly into the sun. The milk cartons cut into a makeshift periscope. Remember your brothers and sisters having to turn away, their eyes too weak. Forget their fall, the push, the fact that that was the last time you saw them. Look up to the sun and ask if your strength is a gift or a curse. Push up, out of your nest, and fly toward it, past the caladrius, feeling for a brief moment a kinship you’ve missed, you’ve thought was gone, you’ve thought wasn’t possible. Feel the heat burn away your outer layer, as if a film had built up over time and you hadn’t even noticed, then tuck and fall. Plummet. Past the caladrius again, past others trying to follow its ascent, and crash into the water. Feel new, cleansed, reborn.

How To
Burch 3

How To

Watch the caladrius give itself to the sun, watch the eagle’s fall and rebirth. Remember the story of Abraham, the test, but forget the last minute reprieve. Watch the other birds, the mother’s chewing the food first and then feeding it to their young. Compile all this watched and learned knowledge, feel it pulse down from your brain to your heart, feel it coursing through your veins. Don’t think, don’t stop and consider, don’t try to do the math. It adds up: the killing, the feeding, the rebirth. Count to three. Spread your wings out to your side in full span. Give of yourself.


Aaron Burch's stories have recently appeared and are forthcoming in Quick Fiction, Keyhole, No Colony, and elimae (where other "How To" shorts have appeared). He is the editor of Hobart.

Artwork appropriated with thanks from The Bestiary.

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