Tales of Tails

Sujata Bhatt Brunizem “The Peacock”

Could be a set piece in school. Calls for that examination of tenor and vehicle that is the hallmark of our tentative forays into interpreting metaphor.

It concludes:

The cat will awaken and stretch.
Something has broken your attention;
and if you look up in time
you might see the peacock
turning away as he gathers his tail
to shut those dark glowing eyes,
violet fringed with golden amber.
It is the tail that has to blink
for eyes that are always open.

The ending reminds me of Marianne Moore and the frozen stillness that still animates the mind. There is of course a peacock treated at one remove (for it appears in a poem about Molière) in the poems of Marianne Moore (“To the Peacock of France”). Note how it too plays with the peek-a-boo unfurling of the tail.

You hated sham; you ranted up
   And down through the conventions of excess;
   Nor did the King love you the less
     Nor did the world,
     In whose chief interest and for whose spontaneous
       delight, your broad tail was unfurled.

Notwithstanding the titular animal, the peacock of Bhatt reminds me more of Moore’s meditation on the natural and the artificial found in the ending of “An Egyptian Pulled Glass Bottle in the Shape of a Fish”.

Not brittle but
Intense—the spectrum, that
     Spectacular and nimble animal the fish,
     Whose scales turn aside the sun’s sword with their polish.

Likewise, the glory of the peacock filtered by the poet’s words.

And so for day 1645

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