Monday, February 19, 2018


A lot of wildlife activity takes place in our backyard here in New Iberia, Louisiana during the day and more frequently at night — possums, coons, an armadillo, squirrels — and domesticated dogs and fat cats sometimes stroll through on a morning walk or an after-dark prowl. However, the other day when I had just emerged from illness, I was on the glass porch enjoying a rare sunshiny day and saw a huge bird with bright plumage sitting on the fence next door. For a moment I thought I was hallucinating as part of my recovery process. But no, it was a peacock or rather a peahen, and when I stepped outside, she, the peahen, flew down into my yard, then strutted through all the backyards lining the coulee —without showing her tail.

I began to read about this strange visitor and learned that she could be aggressive, so I had been wise in deciding not to try to chase the critter. A few moments later, a young girl appeared in my yard, and I went out to greet her. “Was that your bird that just flew by?” I asked. “No,” she replied, “but where did it go? Do you think it escaped from the Zoo of Acadiana?” She scurried off before I could explain that I thought the peafowl might be someone’s pet or give her a long description of the author Flannery O’Connor’s interest in, and rearing of, a yard of peafowl on her farm in Georgia. As O’Connor is one of my favorite authors, the young girl escaped a literary lecture I’m sure she wouldn’t have wanted to hear.

My godmother Dora who lived in Blacksburg, Virginia had a close friend named Elizabeth who married a Mr. Plank, and unbeknownst to Elizabeth, raised peacocks on his farm not far from Blacksburg. A town girl, Elizabeth knew very little about his farming operation, and I’m not sure where the peacocks were hiding when Mr. Plank brought her to the farm for the first time. Now, peacocks sing (?) a certain song that sounds like the scream of a person in serious trouble: “Help, help,” they sang out after Mr. Plank let them out on the lawn and departed for an errand in town. Elizabeth, hearing these blood-curdling screams, immediately dialed the Fire Department, then the police, and invited them out to investigate the high-pitched screams. By the time Mr. Plank returned from his errand in town, he found a crowd of firemen, policemen, frightened peafowl who were now “singing” without pause, and his bewildered wife who never established a friendship with the noisy creatures. And, I might add, she didn’t speak to Mr. Plank for several days because he had withheld knowledge about his “kept” birds.

The peafowl I saw didn’t scream or get in attack mode, but after I read about how these birds, if hungry, or mating, would sometimes attack humans, I was glad that she had continued her march through the backyards of my neighborhood. I did write the “snippet” below after she left the yard:


A peahen landed in the backyard,
air bubbling with the end of ice,
south winds blowing away mist.

The bejeweled creature, refusing to show her tail,
passed closed doors along the coulee
looking for a mate or food;

A brief glimpse of iridescent green, 
she stopped short of the neighbor's fence,
boards rotting from too much winter,

then lifted off before we knew 
whether it was spring arriving
or winter departing...

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