Red Sky at Morning
They’re dying in the hold.
Up on deck I cannot hear them, so I spend all my time there, hiding myself within the constant snap-snap of sails in the wind and the smells of tar and unwashed men at work. The sun sinks sizzling behind us, rises at our bow and sets the dawn clouds smoldering.
Maman tries to get me to come below; I’ve been awake for days, she says.
“Why can’t we help them?” I ask, trying not to think about the sounds of faintly beating wings, the groans, the prayers, the screaming.
“Cherie.” She looks exasperated, but her hand against my cheek is kind. “It has ever been thus. We are forbidden to acknowledge them. But stowaways bring a ship luck, and those that survive can make a new life for themselves on a new shore. It is a good tradition.”
“No.” Her voice is cold iron now. “Feelings do not matter. It is not for the race of men to change.” She strides away.
Our feelings do not matter. On the horizon, the crimson clouds gather, swollen, throbbing. But what about the gods’?