The Knight of the Beak

The knight rides errant, the beautiful knight in the shadow of his hair. He is young, his body skimmed milk poured into armor. He will find the Grail. The forest opens about him, rustle rustle, bristling like a topiary maze.

Pure in heart. We would like to become the Knight of the Grail, to speak the timeless language graven on his shield. A cross, a lion. Eagle wings. The show Knight Rider, it turns out, is only about a car—a talking car, but still, how disappointing! We watch the show anyway, clamping our teeth on the last of the word knight. We’re wrapped in quilts. A camel bell hangs on the wall. We inhabit a speaking world until we go to school, where they ask “Are you black or white?” and we realize that our shields are blank.

The knight falls in love with a fairy queen. He sleeps for a hundred years.

When he wakes up, look! He has become his feathered self.

The forest rings with his brassy cries. And the fairy queen mounts her horse and rides off, tugged by strings we maneuver with Popsicle sticks.

Sofia Samatar & Del Samatar

Sofia Samatar is the author of the novels A Stranger in Olondria and The Winged Histories, and the short story collection, Tender. Her work has received the William L. Crawford Award, the John W. Campbell Award, the British Fantasy Award, and the World Fantasy Award.

Del Samatar holds a BA in Fine Arts from Rutgers University. He lives in New Jersey, where he is pursuing a career as a tattoo artist.

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