“A Bird of Ice” by Craig Laurance Gidney from So Fey: Queer Fairy Fiction by Lethe Press (2009). Edited by Steve Berman.
The lines of this story feel like a meditation, or a poem. The sentences are concise, the imagery vivid. That seems highly appropriate, it being the tale of a Japanese monk.
Ryuichi feels he doesn’t fit in at the monastery. His body rebels during prayers. He’s either restless or his limbs go numb. His mind wanders, drifting away from boring nothingness and chaste philosophical musings about the divine, to call up memories of his deceased grandmother, who not only believed in spirits but sometimes saw them, too. It’s a gift Ryuichi shares.
With the arrival of the first snowfall strange things begin to happen. Ryuichi has encounters with wild animals, experiences which set off his imagination and next invade his dreams. He becomes convinced that he has been cursed by a spirit, and later, that he’s caught the eye of one.
It’s just the adventure he’s been craving.