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The Devouring
by Michael Martin Shea

The day arrived with a heavy knock. At first I thought it was pestilence, my old friend, but turns out I was just hungover. Outside, the sparrows hung from their hovels like little shits. I shot them through the eyes. Then the wind came & took away all my pitchforks. With nothing left to rage with, I sought shelter in my bathtub. I told myself I’d wanted more than this ruined swath of fabric, this sovereign landscape speckled with pigs. I’d wanted a certain sense of achievement—nights spent perched on a shitting moon, in a wailstorm forest surrounded by the bodies of my oppressors. Meanwhile, the earth unfolded its jawbone like a dollar bill. That’s when the windows blew out & the blind sparrows returned, wearing their ruined eyes like diamonds. They perched on the edge of the tub. I thought, This is it, but the biggest one cleared his throat & said, It is time for the devouring. One by one, the sparrows sat down & began to eat their legs. Some of the smaller ones were sobbing between bites. You can imagine the sounds they made, it was absolutely nothing like a machine. Anyway, what was I supposed to do, with my bathrobe in the other room? So I waited for them to finish.