August 14, 2020

The Peacock Fan

posted on: Wednesday April 14, 2010

Alexandra BetGeorge ’11 / Portfolio Staff

A hundred iridescent eyes watch two slender-fingered hands slip around the neck— attached to the same body as the many-eyed tail—then, one hand gliding down the finer-feathered blue nape (gently), to elicit a coo-cooo-(the hands stretch the neck)-OOOO (and twist)… The bird’s circlet’d head withers to the gardened ground. Its convex pupil lens refracts images of: Five slender fingers plucking plumes, leaving gaps in the once-spread fan. The Odalisque plucks a satin ribbon from her hair, sheafs the feathers, there, on her back. She cranes her neck, assuring the only watchful eyes are dead ones; rushes, waist twisting this way through open slits between plant stems, that behind stone fountains whose speckled mica echoes sun-rays upward… She rises at the garden’s edge: A hydra with as many eyes— but with a single head that strains…. The Odalisque then unpins each lock from her scalp— each falling to her waist to hide the hydra’s eyes— then parades past pathetic eunuchs plucked of their pride— through the harem’s halls to the door of a room more secluded than not— to conclude her fixing of the feathers in a silver-wrought clasp, arranging each stalk equidistant from those adjacent. She grasps the silver-bound bird’s tail, holds it before her face— that each feather’s eye would hide her own two, would heed for her own two. So when the Sultan came, bade Mona to bed, she might (coquettishly) flicker the fan twice, then motion with upturned palm to the flock of other Monas beside her.

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