David Ray

A Few for the Peacock Outside My Window

Peacock, every time you stroll past
I move back a few million years,
watch your scaly claw clutching mud.

And it's not clear which careful print
will make you immortal, outlast
sapphires, emeralds, vainglorious cry.

The shadows grow long in my life too.

The woman comes close, stares at you
as if at jewels in a window.
And as I stare at her it seems odd

not to have the same freedom you do,
and to caw out aloud right after.
No wonder my sad feathers drag

across brick. You know nothing of this.

All day long you pace about, stretch
your blue neck, appear to gaze intently
yet you ignore the Japanese girl

who jumps up and down to get your attention.
In fact, you notice nothing, are pure
projection–a blank field for imagination.

I imagine you my friend, plump with empathy.

Notice me! Take pity upon me! Is that not
what I have said to so many? And is that
not your game too, though pretending indifference?

Because you're the center all day and night
in this courtyard you may well think
they adore you dearly, think of nothing but you.

But peacock, you're not even found in their book.

In thousands of snapshots your vanity rules
and you're passed from hand to hand.
Oh, you were a wonder, priceless,

greater than all else they paid to see.
In distant countries you bring smiles
to their faces, like love remembered.

Yet you gave nothing but your mindless shriek.

One more day we are close, you and I
while I fretfully prepare my departure.
How I too would like to stay, centered,

not far to stroll. Yet most of all I envy
your emptiness–your inane enthusiasm
for nothing but sun at your feet.

Peace of mind is to know nothing, to glow.

Negative capability–a term we reserve
for when far too much floods our minds
and thoughts are at war, civil war raging.

But with you the term can be used
with pure meaning–as nothing's in your
small head, not one word rattling around.

No past year troubles you. No face tortures.

Wisdom equals that quite negative ability–
emptiness you seem to have achieved
with your mindlessness, which we must work for.

In a cave I could do it, in the tenth year
of mantras, when my longing for those
who have tortured me would begin to subside.

Then we would be equals–two empty minds glowing.

David Ray, Kangaroo Paws, Thomas Jefferson University
Press, 1994.