#145 Peacock Blues

by Rosemary Jones

The peacocks have been really strutting their stuff. Tails veering high, catching in branches. You
should see them, said the zookeeper to the opera singer.

Tales of woe, said the opera singer, who was dying to pluck a few feathers.

Tails of deception, said the zookeeper, who recognized the signs. He was a cat burglar on his nights off. The opera singer had no idea. She was entranced by his zookeeping skills. So out of her range. Sometimes he let her in the back gate and she prowled around the lions and tigers luring them from their dreams with her lovely operatic tones. She said she lulled them to sleep, but he knew otherwise. They grew crazed with longing, and on nights she didn’t come, he knew exactly how they felt.

The whole zoo clamored for their little bit of Mozart, their little bit of Wagner, their little bit of Pearl Catching, the songs falling from her mouth like a food offering into theirs. Animals have desires, you know, the zookeeper confided to his girlfriend who he had wished sometimes was not, but now was glad he had someone to talk to. The elephants boom-boomed, rumbling an aria. Giraffes swung their necks in clumsy giraffe rhythms. And the colors of the peacocks’ tails swirled in disarray as if the peacocks were the ones out cat burgling: deranged yellows, macaw reds. A square of green, dislodged from a parrot’s back. Only the blues, he noted, remained true.

4 comments:

Aerin said...

I LOVE this. I wish I could pinpoint why - certainly the dialogue, the description, the originality - but the actual spark seems to elude my ability to explain it. Nicely done.

Flutterby said...

This is such an interesting piece. I love how you describe the opera singer saying she lulled them to sleep but the zookeeper new different. And how she was enamoured of his job (when it seems like he should be fascinated by hers) and he seems so cool and indifferent about her sometimes. Also love the description of the animals toward the end. Really nice work.

Susan Woodring said...

This is gorgeous and magical. I'm with Aerin: impossible to pinpoint precisely where or how the story lifts off and carries me away. All I know is, I'm gone, at the end, with the giraffes.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful. I felt completely transported. The opera singer, the zoo animals and the intriguing zoo keeper described beautifully in so few words. Brilliant new idea, brilliantly brought to life.