The smoke curls, burning snakes, painting a mountain aflame and a river frozen into vapor. The bowl trembles, wood melting as the smoke caresses my eyes, throat, mouth. I taste death.
My eyes snap open and the serpent engulfs me. The belly of fire opens up and rages, screaming my name.
Shrinking back, the shadows creep in, whispering, hiding me. I gather them patiently into a shroud, welcoming the embrace. They shift and stretch, lengthening into wings tipped with my blood. I burn darkness, falling, soaring, living, dying.
From my ashes rises the light that will lead me home.