Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Camel Who Dreamt That He Was a Pretty Songbird

Henri Rousseau, Scout Attacked by a Tiger, 1904.

You'd be surprised. Not even a camel enjoys the desert,
as much at home as he may be. It's not the aridity,
the paucity of annual rainfall. He is built for that.
His constitution supplies him with what he needs
for the long crossings that he makes alone.
The inner weather is far harsher.
Talk about personal dryness! It is a desert of the mind.

When I came to you, it was not like finding an oasis.
It was like finding a rainforest, so lush and lively.
Was there something to fear in the intense gaze
peering out from the fronds as in a Rousseau painting?
The camel is drawn to that glimmering fire.
"I like to stare at my prey," you once said. That's animal magnetism.
What camel, having found such a place, would ever willingly leave?

Dozing beneath some sheltering ferns, cooled by a mist that filters the sunlight,
perhaps even snoring a bit, the mesmerized camel learns of transformation.
He is actually a songbird, a full-throated bird of paradise.
No longer a hunchback, he is fit, quick on the wing, and light.
His body is perfectly formed. At spontaneous trills and melodies
he is a natural virtuoso, as though taught by God to sing.
Some drab female birds alight nearby and preen,
but he is more intrigued by a flash of orange fur,
black-striped -- the powerful Tiger, claws extended,
is creeping up the trunk. She is hungry for him.

On this new crossing, the misshapen camel will recall that wonderful dream
of fierce tigers and pretty songbirds. Such a pairing could never be,
he will think to himself. He will dismiss it as an improbable fancy,
fleeting and faithless as a mirage. The Tiger is a dangerous creature.
How could he risk it? Still, it is an amusing thought.

(May 11 - June 7, 2005)


Blogger Molly said...

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Tue Jun 07, 06:39:00 PM EDT  

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