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On Chimney Smoke Lanes

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Santa Claus in reverse, he walks the rooftops of the world, not to give gifts, but to take them.

A dream here, a wish there, he gathers them to himself, keeps them, distributes them to unintended recipients. He shuffles the order of life, and watches as the cards fall, for no purpose but his own amusement.

A butterfly, hatching with the body of a tiny human, peeking from her cocoon, her brothers and sisters fluttering around to admire the stretch of her limbs, the way her hair moves as she extends her wings.

A child sitting in the empty space where a bicycle should be, carefully lettering fliers with ink-smudged fingers.

A boy in the air, a girl in the sea, they touch hands where the dry and the wet meet, and he tells her a story he remembers from his childhood, a story about flying fish. She can't hear him, through the rush of the ocean, but she twines her fingers into his. She smiles.

A girl flaps her tiny wings, and a hurricane builds in China. A bicycle rolls unmanned into the street, crushed beneath the wheels of a truck. A world away from home, a boy sits by a pond weeping, having come to the realization that flying fish cannot fly at all.

In a field, on a night without stars, a sky thief peeks into his bag at the supernova glow of them, and his illuminated face shines with glee.