root, feather, butterfly: a fox’s tail (excerpt) 2007-12

I.

Lion eats gazelle. Wolf eats lamb. Fox eats chicken. Chicken eats worm. Even worm eats lion. That is the order of things.

But what if things were not this way. What if lion loved gazelle, wolf loved lamb, fox loved chicken, chicken loved worm, and even worm loved lion. There is a brotherhood of man – and yet man can be beast. Wouldn’t it also make sense that beast could be man? A fraternity of animal. A place where gazelle was free to gazelle, because it no longer feared lion. Or lamb was free to lamb because it no longer feared wolf. Or chicken was free to chicken because it no longer feared fox. But what if chicken yearned to be more than chicken?

That was the thought that went through chicken’s head as she sat with crow and porcupine. Daily, the threesome sat together by the side of the brook in the hollow among the reeds of wood, enjoying their midday picnics. Wood was a splendidly bountiful and joyful place that could provide for all. It was so distantly removed from the world, that it provided its residents sanctuary from the struggle and savagery that existed outside its

borders. It was a place within which, due to its isolated bounty, beast could live in civility and brotherhood. It was a place where chicken could chicken, porcupine could porcupine, and crow could crow. Wood was a place of peace and ease, and, with very little to weigh their minds, chicken, porcupine, and crow met daily by the brook in wood to idly gossip and discuss the comings and goings of their home.

They spoke of eagle and his stately grace. They spoke of swan and her enchanting song. They spoke of dove and her peaceful virtue. They spoke in admiration of all the wonderfully great creatures, who did wonderfully great things, and who lived along side them in their wonderfully great wood. And throughout their adoration and praise, they would sip tea and nibble on their delicious assortment of fare, content to enjoy their days in wood. That was every other day, but not today, because today, their sojourn was quite unexpectedly disturbed.

On this day, porcupine had been excitedly musing on the quite nimble dancing of bear, when, abruptly, their quiet patch came alive. It began with an eye. Then, another eye. Then, a hundred eyes. Framing a crown that proudly rose upon a head – a head that rose upon a neck – a neck whose length sloped down to a blaze of blue rising like a fire back to a fan of eyes. Peacock appeared through the reeds, and the trio’s feast abruptly and unexpectedly turned to dearth. Peacock was magnificent, and, so magnificently so, that even from peacock’s plumes fell a score of feathers no longer worthy of adorning his frame. Talon over talon with a purposeful strut, peacock cut a line through the locked stares of the three only to be swallowed by the thick brush that bordered the brook.

In the splendor of wood, amidst the reeds of the brook, in the wake of peacock’s gait, all that remained was a palpable silence, a trail of feathers lost, and three disheartened companions left to ponder their lack. And the three sat blankly in silence for what seemed an eternity, reflecting upon themselves and each other, until their silence was finally broken by chicken. Chicken was content to chicken, but what if chicken wanted to be more than chicken. The words filled the air.

But what if chicken yearned to be more than chicken?

More often than not, when words fill the air, they join a myriad of other words that are already there, and as such amidst such a cacophony, they eventually disappear into the sky never to be heard again. More often than not, this is the sad course of words. This time, however, didn’t happen to be one of those times. As the words left chicken’s mouth, they floated through the hollow, past the reeds, by the brook, over a berm and landed on the left ear of fox before moving up to the sky.

Fox had his own problems. Hungry, fox had spent the morning fruitlessly lunging for apples that sat just above his reach in the orchard beside the hollow. Worn and frustrated, fox’s stomach lurched with a grumble. That is not a good thing, because despite a fraternity of beasts, when fox’s stomach grumbles, fox will be fox and fox the way foxes are prone to do.

Chicken’s words couldn’t have descended upon fox at a more timely moment – for fox that is. Despite his fatigue, fox bounded up the berm and cast his gaze over the happenings by the brook. There sat three friends gathered around quite a feast that seemed to go disdainfully untended. What a wasteful affair. But what if chicken wanted to be more than chicken. With these words to his avail, fox began to fox and sprung down the other side of the berm to the gathering below.