By Charles Rafferty
That summer, two peacocks showed up in the neighborhood. Jonathan and Karen listened to their cries at dusk, practically human, calling from one patch of woods to the other across their yard. It sounded like both a warning and a plea. Of course, in the beginning, they didn't know it was peacocks. They lived in Connecticut and had never heard such a sound. They stayed off the deck at night; they left the porch light burning.
Then Jonathan found one dead on the side of the road. At first it looked like someone had tossed a showgirl's costume from a passing car, but he could see the wings when he got up close, the broad breast of iridescent green. Jonathan knew that this was the animal disturbing their evenings. It was too exotic to be otherwise. He wanted one of the tail feathers so that he could show his wife, but he had to step on the bird and pull with both hands in order to get it out.
Back at home, they marveled at the giant eyeball at the end, how it shimmered in the light, how easily it could be damaged. That evening, there was only one peacock calling in the woods, and it seemed to be drifting farther. Jonathan stepped off of the deck and walked down to the edge of the yard. He tried to see it among the trees, but of course there were only shadows getting deeper, the first stars waiting somewhere in the sky. He took a few steps in, then turned to wait for Karen. But she was just sitting down, a glass of wine in hand, a breeze from somewhere pushing the hair from her eyes.
Charles Rafferty's tenth book of poetry is The Unleashable Dog (2014, Steel Toe Books). His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Oprah Magazine, The Southern Review, and Prairie Schooner. His stories have appeared in Sonora Review, Pedestal, Cortland Review, and Staccato. His collection of short fiction is Saturday Night at Magellan's (2013, Fomite Press). Currently, he directs the MFA program at Albertus Magnus College. (Updated October 2015)
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