. . . his head on the long blue reed-like neck
was drawn back as if his attention were fixed
in the distance on something no one else could see.
--Flannery O’Connor, “The Displaced Person”
Flannery’s peacock stalked into her tale,
his prophet’s eye evaluating the scene.
His strut foretold that he knew the crisis
these mortals would face, the descending doom
on their unwitting heads. He knew that the death
of the judge had ushered a new order.
He had seen his tribe decrease, reordered
to fit the widow’s distaste for his tail,
its reminder of a world where death
and life sought justice in a colored scene.
His night call sounded in her ear the doom
that lived just beyond the threat of crisis.
The priest sensed the answer to crisis
in the peacock’s display, saw an order
in the green-gold pattern of deferred doom.
He saw the sacramental sense of the tale
unfold through eyes that seemed dim to the scene
of culture-embedded stagnation and death.
But the women characters, bound to die,
calcified minds lost in their own crises,
were unable to change or shift the scene
that beat a rhythm of boundless order,
a set of events that formed its own tail
like some giant chameleon of doom.
Displacement, the common factor that doomed
each character and brought on grizzly deaths
to two, was the human lot in this tale.
Each person was made to face a crisis
in his or her sense of place and order
within that space. But the peacock had seen
more than they could see. His vision of the scene
was linked to a golden ideal that doom
could neither understand nor reorder.
Guizac’s work ethic could never match death’s
certain visit nor avert its crisis
for his kin in this parabolic tale.
Even Astor, whose life measured the tale’s
span by the widow’s three husbands, had seen
more changes than he could explain. The crisis
of mutation beyond his ken, the doom
of displacement was like the knell of death
to his segregated sense of order.
When order was restored, the peacock’s tail
had escaped death. The priest, still on the scene,
served the plumed mystic of doom and crisis.