Mechanically Separated Chicken.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Feathers.

I did some calculations, and in the end, decided on a pelican. My first choice, a swan, appealed for romantic reasons, but lacked stamina. Geese, though stout, resilient and certainly capable of flying across whole oceans at a time - as I myself would need to - were too trapped by flock mentality. I mean honestly - who can be bothered with fixed migratory routes and V-formations? Pfft. It's a culture I have no time for, and frankly, that's why I dropped out of highschool in the first place. And so, a pelican: clumsy, sincere, beautiful in flight; ugly, so they say, in repose. Good at fishing. Longest beak in the world. I'd hoped you might like that.

Next thing you know, there I am, stumbling out of the library with an armful of books on feather chemistry and wind dynamics and maps of tiny un-named mid-Pacific atolls (just rocks really, but somewhere to rest along the way). With a scalpel, I cut out pictures and made a collage: a caricature, sure, but good enough for creative visualisation. Then I stole a bunch of graph paper from the art shop and spread it out on the carpet at home. For diagrams. I turned the laundry into the Coral Sea; the hallway runner into the Equator. Micronesia sprinkled across the kitchen floor like crumbs.

Abraham Ortelius drew the first map of the Pacific ocean in 1589, and these days they take photographs from satellites. But there's never been a map like mine: a bird's eye view, for reals. I've sent it to you in the mail, fifty sheets rolled up inside a gym bag. It'll get there before I do.

When I arrive, I'll come to you as you leave the office. I don't know what day, or even, really, what month, but I'll get there and I'll wait for you in the carpark at closing time, pectinated claws folded neatly beneath my soiled plumage. Perhaps I'll sit on the bonnet of your burnt umber Ford Escort and rest my wrinkled, scrotal neck pouch against your windscreen. I will preen, I will oil myself, I will run my tattered bill through my down, because I want to look my best, for you. But there will be broken feathers, injuries, a bleeding tongue. Lice, too, no doubt. I could almost fall asleep there on the hot metal, dreaming of the many times I considered drowning. I could have happily dropped straight into the sea - plummeted, pinions tucked to my sides - were it not for the memory of your soft seafoam skin, the white sandbar of your forehead, the coastal sweep of your receding hairline.

I will tuk-tuk my lower mandible in exhaustion, and wait. I'll be patient. I'll shut my eyelids and picture a nest: three plain, bluish eggs. I'll be patient, and wait for you to finish work and find me. What a surprise it will be. I'll be patient. I know how your boss likes to keep you late on Fridays. I can wait.

10 Comments:

Blogger David Prater said...

yay yay yay!!!!

10:24 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

perfection.

adam

9:37 AM

 
Blogger billyjoe noodle-bob said...

you, miss hsg, are very, very, very, very clever.

11:31 PM

 
Blogger Gempires said...

I love your blog and shall link it to mine immediately. Nice.

11:09 PM

 
Blogger Crayon said...

what a brilliant writer.

never read anything quite so cleverly neutrally written.

9:53 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Grumpy Girl here - too lazy to make up password which I'll forget anyway.
Just wanted to say I love this piece and not just because of the scrotal neck pouch.

5:31 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful, and an excellent reading of it at the Sleepers Salon this evening. Thanks.

Lucinda

10:51 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I attended the Sleepers Salon event at MWF yesterday, and was very impressed with your writing.

I was also thrilled to know about your blog, especially as I've been toying with the idea of starting one. I hadn't seen enough well-written or literary blogs though, so I was quite skeptical about the whole thing. Thanks for opening my eyes!

-Suchitra

2:19 PM

 
Blogger Shauny said...

ohh magnificent :)

10:40 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:35 PM

 

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