I Am Held in the Hands of God Who Is Named Walter Potter; or, from the Case of ‘The Death and Burial of Cock Robin’
by Elou Carroll
I am born again with eyes of glass. The hand of God holds a needle, and the needle pulls a fine thread. There is a tug and the thread releases. Here, I am unmade and made anew.
I wait. God runs His hands down my feathers, and I am neatened. In my talons, He affixes a shovel and so I know I am bound for a great and glorious burden. In his tableau, I am named Gravedigger, I am named Owl; we are one in the same. In this glass case, we are a still-image, a burial ourselves, performing another. God has named us The Death and Burial of Cock Robin, see him there in his small coffin. See how we mourn. Yes, child. Yes. Press your button nose against the glass. See how plush our feathers. See how solemn we carry him.
Not for us, the frivolities of the schoolhouse or a table set for tea. For we, bearers of duty, must lay our friend to rest.
From the glass we watch Him greying; we watch Him fade like paper but still he works. Before my eyes, God stops a wedding in time; kittens stand in matrimonial dress, their guests all trussed up in finery. We watch Him perform a resurrection, a livening of the dead. See Him there with his needle, with his tools.
They call us Curiosities, those who do not understand that His work is miracle. They come and they gawp and gape and jab their hands upon the glass. We remain stalwart at our posts. It is the children we like best; the children who understand our wonder. Not with judgement do they press palms upon our casement, but with awe.
It is not enough. Soon, He comes but to look, to place His hands upon the tableaux like hands at prayer. As he recedes, we call to him though we have no calls left at our throats—we do so with our eyes, glass fading, dust-covered, until at last God has gone away.
Still they come, the children and their makers, who are shaped so much like Him that we stand straighter, heads higher until we see that they are not Him at all. Fewer and fewer of them come to press their hands upon our glass caskets. When the world ends, we are alone in the dark, and He has forsaken us.
Elou Carroll is a graphic designer and freelance photographer who writes. Her work appears or is forthcoming in The Deadlands, Hexagon SF Magazine, In Somnio (Tenebrous Press), Spirit Machine (Air and Nothingness Press), Ghostlore (Alternative Stories Podcast) and others. She is the editor of Crow & Cross Keys, and tweets from @keychild.
Detail of the owl from Walter Potter’s ‘The Death and Burial of Cock Robin’ from a photograph by Taxidermy Emporium Ltd, www.taxidermyemporium.co.uk, which you can see in full here; reproduced with permission from Taxidermy Emporium Ltd.