By Melissa Cooper
After spending the better part of September on eastern Long Island, I’m home in NYC, where fall has thinned the trees in Riverside Park. Home in the city, where the peacocks roam. Our first day back, the dog and I visited the grounds of Saint John the Divine to check in on the three free-roaming peacock boys. We looked in the Biblical garden, our urban secret garden, but saw no peacocks.
No peacocks on the way to the garden’s romantic arbor.
No peacocks at the leafy throne.
And no peacocks on the way out of the garden.
Suddenly we heard three loud squawking cries: Peacocks! We followed the sound and, slipping into a half-hidden construction storage area, we found:
The peacocks drop their glorious long tail feathers long before New York City’s trees drop their leaves. But that’s all right. The diminished splendor of the tail leaves us more able to appreciate the subtler beauty of their speckled wings and rusty underfeathers that perfectly match the piles of brick.
The peacock preened, turning his neck this way and that, putting more kinks into it than seems possible.
However do they do that?
I’ve already researched and written
the extraordinary cervical flexibility
of long-necked birds.
Birds have at least
and as many as
Humans, by contrast, like all mammals,
have a mere
And some animals, notably frogs, have
You can read all about it here, in
But I digress.
Let us return
to the peacock,
to bend and twist, with most impressive dexterity.
We watched for a while. And we, in turn, were watched.
We became fascinated by the peacock’s scaly feet.
Eventually, we headed back into the open grounds, where we found the white peacock known as Phil.
He wandered into the bushes.
He lurked among the flowers.
On our way out of the grounds, we found the third peacock in the grasses near Amsterdam Avenue. We stopped to watch. He moved into the sunlight.
And then we left.
Oh, it’s good be home.