Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Death of the Roo

The Death of the Rooster
copyright mary todd
     Boy, that was one beautiful Roo. 
     He had it in all the right places: an enormous bouquet of long, iridescent tail feathers, shimmering deep pine green in sun or shade; powerful reptilian feet, silky like a snake to touch but as agile and hard-hitting as any featherweight boxer; the brightest ruby red eyes, fierce eyes that could see your thoughts, eyes that dared you not to get out of his way. His deep red wattles[1], swinging heavily under his powerful granite beak, matched his erect cockscomb above and must have certainly attracted the attention of the hens.

     I say “the hens”, but should correct myself and say his hens; for they were his—he knew it, they knew it, and I learned it—the hard way. It was, apparently, not my job to manage the hens. Whenever I tried—e.g., attempting to give all the girls an equal chance at tasty tidbits of ham or cheese (or oddly, anything that in hindsight would have been delicious in an omelet)—the Roo would let me know I had overstepped. His head would jerk; his eyes glittered wildly as he rushed me before I even had time to raise up from setting out my seven equally proportioned saucers of treats. Fact is, his Best Girl was to first have all she wanted of the goodies I laid out—and only then were all the others to step up for a taste.
The Mighty Roo mtodd click to view large 
“There is a pecking order here! What the hell do you think you’re doing? Get out of my foreplay room!” Well, that’s anthropomorphizing. What he actually said was more like, “Bam! Sock! Pow!” His commanding wings would raise him a foot or two into the air as he boxed me with his giant dinosaur feet, faster than any gym partner, more accurate than Ali, if I dare say so. On days when I was wearing my sturdy field boots, I could hold my leg out and let him go for it. His amazing hind legs seemed to move with the speed of a propeller, and the air would ring as if a premium kangaroo leather speed punching bag was being schooled by Manny Pacquiao.
     So I learned to let the Mighty Roo do his job in managing the small lovely flock of egg layers, and keep to my part, which seemed less fun than his and frequently involved paying for things and cleaning up caca.
     And, truth be told, he was amazing at his job. He roused everyone at daybreak. He showed the girls the best spots for free ranging: the sweet green henbit in the spring sun   
 and the soft Kentucky bluegrass in the summer shade. He scared away the crows and rabbits and squirrels from the ground around the birdfeeders, saving those tasties for his Best Girl. He out-crowed a rooster living a mile away, whom he would never get to box, their boasts echoing back and forth across the river on windless days. He sat next to his humans on the bench, permitting himself to be stroked, then insisting that he be stroked, his beak to be tapped, his chest to be ruffled. Each evening the Perfect Roo nudged the sweet hens back into the cozy coop to watch the lengthening orange shadows from the safety of the little barn, away from the bald eagles flying overhead, returning to their river nests.
     There are many similarities between a man who lives on a small farm in the country and a rooster. Being Master of One’s Domain can mean many things—crowing when one feels good, strutting about on a good day (knowing the Top Hen is content), looking so very fine as the early eastern glow steadily turns into the psychedelia of sunrise on a farm.     
The Social Rooster marytodd
  A man and a rooster look for food and share it with their girls. A man and a roo single out among the admiring flock the one with the fluffiest feathers, the roundest rump, the silkiest cluckings, and let her know she is his Best Girl. The simple coming and going of light and dark sets the day’s routine of work and play.  A man who manages a little piece of land has been given, and is giving, a gift. He rotates with the Earth in its slow, diurnal spinning; his feet are planted firmly in the seemingly slower revolution through space; the steady cycles of living and dying bring tears and laughter and are measured in seconds, in seasons, in years, in lifetimes.
A Nice Sky MTODD fine art in the flint hills

     Yet, the movements which gift us with seasons—the gentle rotations and revolutions—are in fact not gentle at all. The spinning speed of the Earth—1000 miles per hour! and the orbital movement through space, at almost 70 X that—are shattering speeds—but they stay exactly the same. The physicists tell us that since we do not feel any acceleration or deceleration, we feel—nothing. One only feels motion if one’s speed changes...

 The Dog loosed from a neighboring farm came into the Roo’s yard stealthily, while the air was warm and all the living creatures were busy not feeling any movement but the gently pulsing solar rays. The Dog did not have a good reputation, as did the Roo; he did not have in his heart loyalty and protection, as did the Roo; he was not motivated by hunger or family or safety or gifting, as was the Roo.
     The Dog was probably surprised to find that his enormous size and (no doubt, oft-rewarded) ferocity did not give him the easy theft in his sights. No, the evidence left behind exposed the repeated attempts and the persistence needed to accomplish his wicked deed; clearly showed the merciless nature of the kidnapping and murder of the widely beloved and most excellent Roo.
dandelions at sundown mtodd
Three scattered piles of feathers. One here, near the house; mostly the smaller, exquisitely striped brown and tan and cream feathers from the generous, proud chest. One there, in the back yard—a dozen long, delicately curved tail feathers, precious like silk, like satin, exquisite beyond words. Two dozen unbearably soft downy feathers, like posies in palest green and white, like colossal snowflakes made of frothy diaphanous featherdust. Gently collecting them from the ground—some covered in saliva—just the memory now triggering hot tears streaming and actual ripping to the human heart muscle. Finally, the porch, the sanctuary. Broken vase. Spilled water bowls. Tattered screen. Stiff dark feathers. What good can come from imagining? A menace appears, shoves into one’s dwelling, clambers onto chairs and tables in lustful, blind pursuit of … Blood? Sport? The Death Moment?
     In the end, the Roo was the same as he always was. He lived as he lived into the final seconds of breath.
     In those final moments, he no longer wore his lush bouquet of iridescent pinegreen tail feathers. He no longer felt the beautiful creamy breast of ruffled softness that gave him warmth and us, love. In the end, he was brazenly, heartlessly stripped of all that made him a thing of nature’s beauty. He stood bitten and beaten and ripped and naked. But, in the end, he was also defiant and brave and cared not—for his girls were safely away. The Rooster would not have been aware of his nakedness, perhaps, or of the blood he wore, nor even of his likely end.  The Beast had been enticed, and tricked. The dishonorable beast—his thick, single-minded sin having left him forever an object of disgrace—was no match for the Roo, doing the job, living the life he was born to. The selfish beast was no match for the perfect Rooster’s strength of character and sacrificial giving. The Roo had won. The Roo never changed. He stayed exactly who he was. A Rooster with Heart.

Man, that was one beautiful Roo. He had it in all the right places.
     And in the end, the man and the rooster differ; for Man is a mystic, and sees beyond time and the present moment. The Rooster is buddhist and has only the now.
     And whereas the Roo may have experienced the events of his mortal wounding and death as nothing but an instant in time--an instant majestic and astonishing in fulfillment of his nature, to be sure, but no different than the marvelous killing of a mouse in the henhouse or raising the sun with a spectacular crowing—to the Man and his Best Girl, the events slowed time and stopped movement. Love—even a drop of love—can stop the movement of the Earth. Pondering the events in time, and weaving them through the past—the earlier love of a wobbly chick and a tiny but earnest first crowing—and into the promised future—a grainy picture of a grand, crotchety bird with low-swinging wattles and grandchicks galore and orange sunsetting shadows finding them on the bench, together—the man and his woman felt the spinning, the acceleration and deceleration of time, the shattering speed of grief.
     The wounds of love, like all grief, are a part of the spiral, the slow spiraling approach to that which seems unapproachable… a whispering into that other, unbearable grief…we pull back, to return later, to risk going further into the deep. The passing seasons are the walls that the wounded bounce against, buttressed, corralled in the mask of sanity, kept alive and standing until the searing part of the pain is gone. Until the heart stitches itself up a bit. Until one might stand again by oneself. Like our bodies need gravity, our souls need seasons: a strange nourishing organic blanket teaching us the Grace of Time.

sunset in the flint hills mary todd

[1]From the delightful, generous Wikipedia:
 “A wattle is a fleshy caruncle hanging from various parts of the head or neck in several groups of birds and mammals. A caruncle is defined as 'A small, fleshy excrescence that is a normal part of an animal's anatomy'.[1] Caruncles in birds include wattles, dewlaps, snoods and earlobes. Wattles are generally paired structures but may occur as a single structure when it is sometimes known as a dewlap. Wattles are frequently organs of sexual dimorphism. In some birds, caruncles are erectile tissue and may or may not have a feather covering.”


beast vs life, killer vs prey; 
grasshopper eats "my" plants;
 chicken eats "the" grasshoppers;  
 (why are not the grasshoppers "mine"? Oh, because i didn't intend them to come?
 So intention changes things--in our minds. And in natures?)   
chicken eats grasshopper; 
eagle eats chicken. 
But vicious dog kills chicken, not eat chicken.
 Sorry, lust for blood killing is not an intention i will ignore. 
guess i'm more christian than buddhist? 






the mighty roo mary todd

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