In this place, animal sounds and wind are ubiquitous. Sometimes, through lack of human contact, the animals come to seem human.
Squawking and squealing, the symphony of my days, their high-pitched calls are not only background, but sometimes the very stuff of communication.
Animals, the people of my existence.
My husband did away with the chickens a long time ago; the rabbits died out on their own. Several generations thick, they roosted and raced, underground, through growth, licking water. Some rabbit disease struck and took them all out, almost overnight.
The geese are silent except when bothered. We hear the turkeys, tap-tapping their way across earth or roof. The peacock responds to wind, as well as machinery and human voices.
His beauty is astonishing, like a perfect melody. What can you do with the beauty of a peacock but try to sing it?
(A beautiful song, perhaps more beautiful than a peacock, can be sung again and again. Or at the very least, its rhythm tapped out on a hand or with foot to floor.)
All night, the peacock's moan blends with my dreams. His colors are what save him from the aphony of his song.
Birdfeet tap, hands clap, rappers rap.
Tongues lap? Monkeys crap?
One summer day, my son threw a rock at the peacock and silenced him—for hours. Fearful that he'd gone off to die, we went around trying to approximate his squawk, thinking to seduce him away from his isolation. I felt desolate, though I'd always thought I hated him.
It seemed to be the last of our peacock days. But no. He went silent for a day, then awakened us from the rooftiles the next morning, long before dawn.
How to go about describing the music I didn't hear but saw one day? Strands of bleached wheat crossed over one another, pulsed, twisted. Tall stalks waved a beat. No notes, to speak of, but pattern and composition through movement and placement.
The son who shocked the peacock looked over my shoulder yesterday as I was writing and said: Mom, you just have too many secrets.
Still, I prefer human words. Wind is mostly offensive. Constant, monotonous, often incessant. Like a mother-in-law. The very opposite of inspiring. (Though breath, wind, and inspiration could hardly have more in common.)
After the incident with the rock, the peacock leaves his cage and is mostly silent. I'm not complaining—his voice was never music.
We'd assumed the peacock's screech was grief over the death of the peahen (buried over a year ago). For months he wandered over rocks, between olive trees, hopping branch to branch—we thought he was looking for something.
But maybe he was only trying to find his way back to the cage.
What made us think a bird, just because we find him beautiful, is like us?
When I squawk at him, he moans back; the call-and-response can go on for minutes.
Who does he think we are? (Who does he think he is?)
Who are we?
I'm making American-style chili for tonight's guests. I'd thought to force a diet on them (both are fat enough, and could benefit from some scarcity) but am now excited to offer up a dish that, to their na´ve palates, may seem positively exotic.
And that peacock, with its incessant cawing? If I knew how to cook the tongue, I could rationalize a quick slaughter. They say the meat is tough, but tasty.