Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Symptom

Machu Picchu —

The many-feathered thing that scared me had
six eyes and seven feet and eighty other parts
I’ve never seen on any living thing, and if it had
a clever aspect or a bashful grin I couldn’t say
because I dared not more than glance. I saw
that it was quite peculiar, and I wasn’t feeling very
strong, not up to confrontation, certainly, or even
hi, how have you been, so I assumed, as one does
(wouldn’t you?), it was the enemy, plus it arrived
without an invitation—didn’t phone or text ahead—
one minute I was by myself, the next I had a
feathered six-eyed, seven-footed stranger on my
bed. I did what anyone would do—jumped up and
ran around and ‘round the room, in case it got it in
its six-eyed head to spray me with a noxious liquid
that would paralyze me or else, worse yet, stain my

I ran in circles for a while, assuming it was after me,
but, no, it sat sedately on the bed—a bit bemused, it
must be said, as if it were expecting me to stay and
chat instead of dashing hither, yon, and back again.
In my defense, it hadn’t said a word, so how was I
to know what sort of language to address it in,
American or Alien or French, assuming that I were
inclined to overlook its strange, outré demeanor
and proceed to conversation? I just wished it to be
gone. I didn’t want, right then, to know its history
or antecedents, only its intention. But it kept its
silence. Panting and exhausted, I was forced to stop
and catch my breath, and there it sat, no more
malicious than my daddy’s hat, the gray fedora
that, when not on Daddy’s head, perched on a
high shelf in the entryway. The creature radiated
curiosity and not a bit of malice, but I turned my
head to cough, preparatory to an inquiry about its
origin, and when I turned back it had gone.

Well, isn’t that the oddest thing, said I to me, to up
and leave just when I had begun to see it
differently? If there are any lessons here, they are,
first, lock your doors, and, second, keep an open
mind when you’re presented with a little feathered
person of the six-eyed, seven-footed kind. It might
mean an adventure; don’t reject it out of hand and
find to your regret that it has gone to Machu
Picchu and you have been left behind.

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