What should be here? More flowers? I place more flowers, but they don’t fit. Too bright. Too Sickly. But there isn’t anything else, so I leave it. I leave the gaudy flowers to clog the pot like a big garish shit, so they swallow up the charm and interest out of anything else. Those festoons of copper, that varnished ebony – meaningless! Just things that happen to be near the domineering fan of burning, sickly colour. That factory of sweet nausea. That sight-stealing bundle of joy.
I take all of the flowers out to the back and I burn them, and the embers spit and hiss smugly. Those flame-tips lick and mingle with the petals.
Now they’ve amassed together and become one,
Where does each one end and begin? I don’t even have time to tell; it’s climbing out of the barrel now – wrapping its creeping crimson around the edges and pulling itself out, groaning.
Now it’s on the tiles and singing songs. Whistling them, like a kettle, while it ambles up to my shoed toes and melts the soles.
I won’t take it inside again. It was distracting enough when it was only petals. Now it’ll just go from room to room, pompously turning everything else dull.
I call it a peacock and it assumes the shape – fanning its tail and strutting the rockery.
It smells too sweet. Its whistles are too shrill. It still looks too much. But who will take a peacock, made of fire and flora?
An ugly-pretty falsebird?
Not even I, the most compassionate of the compassionate men – should such a race exist. I start to chase it around the grass. Developing in a barrel, it doesn’t know fear, but I teach it, and it spins a circle and cuts to the lofty tops of the hedgerow, until it can go no further through the white-thick branches.
But I have to get rid of it, because I can only pay attention to its fiery plumage, and not to the water feature piled all the way up to the top of the fence.
So I chase the peacock up it. I chase the fire-floral peafowl up the volcanic staircase and over the fence, and out of my garden.
But it takes me with it; I couldn’t resist grabbing its tail in a jealous vomit-inducing rage, and it’s taken me on its soaring trip from fence to fence, and into the placid clouds.
Vapour evaporates into nothing as hot petals roar through the heavens.
A nearby wayward balloon melts.
My feet touch nothing.
Now the ground is a tiny nothing, and the square-pocked fields below look like green Battenberg. And I can only look at the ground. The feathers are in my face now; they sear my cheeks.
The burning bastard! I’d wring its neck, if it wouldn’t send me plummeting back down to the cakey ground.
So I let him off, but not without whispering nasty things into his blossoming ears. It doesn’t pay me any attention.
But he has all of mine, the ugly thing.
And the clouds tear asunder.
And the peacock sails through them, with myself in tow.
And they close back up around us.
We’re in a cloud-cave now; soft, bathed in the orange fire. Flowers bloom around me.
But it’s not disgusting anymore. In fact, it’s beautiful here.
This room was made for it, and it was made for the room. The natural simplicity of it, giving all the focus onto the pea-shrine. As it is. As it should be.
Where the peacock is most beautiful.
The peacock is beautiful.
I was wrong to judge it, it is beautiful.
But the clouds rumble and part again – I nearly fall through the cushions of cirrus as they do, and a tremendous ball of flame – shaped like some shapeless god – floats through the gap, bringing with it a light so bright and wondrous that my eyes nearly melt into liquid diamond in their sockets. I see the peacock leap up and perch on top of it.
And it hatches. A bigger peacock emerges – enormous and unfathomable – brighter. And from its beak and eyes, a voice comes thus;
“This will not do. This does not match. It’s ugly and doesn’t fit.”
He’s wrong, I know it. The other peacock did not fit in my home, as it was not the right place for it. But this place, in the clouds – this is where the bird belongs. This is where he is most beautiful. So I tell it.
“You’re wrong, I know it”, I say. “The peacock belongs here. It matches perfectly.”
But the bigger one looks at me down its huge beak – sneering almost;
“This will not do, this thing made of flesh and hair. This fleshy ugly thing, with its featherless arms – how ugly it is! It doesn’t fit.”
I’m part of the décor, and I don’t even fit.
I stare at the space between my melted shoes in the shame of ruining the Feng Shui of
the cloud room of burning peacocks.
If only I were a small red vase, and then I would fit in. If only I were a potted plant, or a framed picture. If only I were a peacock, made of fire and flowers. If only I matched the upholstery.
“I’ll take it out to the back and burn it”, the big peacock says.