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anxiety, intense -
but I am not frightened ...
my heart races ... I want to flee
my blood heats and lies to
my senses ...
'get out! go now! dear gawd, fool, run!!'
for you are formidable -
eighty inches tall, if a foot
flat, broad head like an anvil with fur
sloping shoulders that wrap to
bony, feathered appendages, tips scratching dirt
I can see moonlight behind them
(like the waves in Turner's "Fishermen at Sea")
where skin is pulled taut
and thin ...
but crested with a grand, dark plumage
strong and powerful, though
huddled 'round you like
a coat - the cold wind whistling
through dead trees behind you - like tall,
brittle soldiers at your
I fight the impulses
of fear that are searing my core,
for I am certain you mean me
no harm - feel it as deeply as my bones -
my purpose is to communicate,
but your eyes are a barrier -
I am sure of your benign intentions,
but my species has been
conditioned, you see ...
taught that such gleaming crimson
orbs are the gaze of evil,
and despite my acumen, I'm frozen in place ...
I want so to speak - to reach out a
hand in friendly gesture,
to be one creature in this alien
world you're banished to
in whom you find an accord, or at least
something not intent on your
ruin or demonization ...
we have been at this
impasse before, you and I -
so many times I have come to this
ruddy, vacant spot to find you,
and so many times you
have found ME ...
abandoned factory buildings
huddled like old women, their dark, empty eyes
staring, catatonic, aloof witnesses to
our timid dance of curiosities ...
every time we seem to
get no closer than this - a Universe of
unknowns swimming in the icy air
between us, yet a common compulsion to
know the other -
to find a simple element with which
to bridge our vacillations ...
and our kind ...
I know you are lost,
though I don't know WHY -
I sense it assuredly the way I sense
other things about you ...
I know it is YOU who are communicating,
sending me cerebral impulses that
I can not return,
but that I feel to my core,
and do not question ...
I feel your longing for your home -
a sad, empty yearning that
almost brings tears,
and I know your being here
was not intended or planned, but
inescapable ... and terrifying ...
odd that it has never occurred to me before
that you might be as apprehensive
of me as I am of you ...
did you purposely not convey that emotion?
did you screen that somehow as
a defensive tool, or perhaps in an effort
to patronize or disseminate?
I'm lost in the
mystery of those thoughts when I
see you move the tips of
your "feet", (more like talons, really, with
three long, bony metatarsals,
two joints in each, and
a long, thick nail), scratching the
ground a bit, and flexing your
back-bending knee joints, (disconcerting, that),
and I know from our many previous
encounters that you're
about to leave ...
my heart lurches,
because this is NOT what I want -
to end another of our meetings in failure -
so I flatten the palm of my
right hand, spread my fingers, and
extend my arm out slightly,
but your EYES are still holding
me firmly in place ...
(perhaps if I disconnect, I muse)
I close my eyes gently
and try to concentrate on "friend", clamping
my lids shut for as long
as I can, and when I'm finally about
to open them again,
I FEEL it - a soft electrical
trembling on the back of my
outstretched hand ... where you have TOUCHED it!
my impulse again is to run, or at
least open my eyes,
but I resist, and the feeling travels
up my arm to all my extremities -
the most peaceful, calming emotion I've ever
known saturates my being
with euphoria and serene intelligence,
wrapping me so securely that
I almost feel I have wings of my own ...
my eyes stay shut, and my
consciousness begins to blur and drift in
a pool of warm, dark beauty,
and just when I start to lose contact
with reality, I hear a loud "whoosh",
feel a biting cold breath slap
my face, and open my
eyes to see you fly straight up into the
chilly, moonlit sky ...
as after all our previous
encounters, I am left with the remnants
of your staggering loneliness, an
overwhelmingly intense yearning for a
world far beyond this
solar system, but
THIS time the residue is
tainted with something new -
crimped with something tender and
bright and joyous, and though
rather small, a defined feeling of HOPE ...
and one word: "friend" ...
I stand in
that spot for the longest time, though
I don't really know why -
I turn my weary gaze up to the
moon, and almost fall over from shock
and amazement, for Luna is as
bright as I've ever seen her, and she is
as NEVER before - a deep,
wonderful, gleaming, crimson RED ...
I'm quickly set
at ease, for there, far
inside my spirit, I know that you have
not changed the color of
the moon, but that I have simply,
graciously, miraculously ...
been given a very
precious gift - new, shimmering
eyes with which to
view my world,
and the promise of a very
rare-yet-unsettling friendship ...
Copyright © Gregory Richard Barden | Year Posted 2021