Nestling in the niche between the chapel’s crumbling arches, his long blue neck plucks nibbles of tessera.
He wanders through mosaic parables like something risen out of time, wearing fashion all wrong for Byzantium—
a jaunty tri-plume hat in an age of halos. You presume at first this must have been a gold-leaf sermon contra
vanity, or like those tapestry-arrested unicorns, an attempt to tame our lusts of flesh. His sumptuous blue
feathers with their knowing eyes seem destined for a harem girl’s accessory, so what are they doing here?
What Augustine wrote at Carthage, though, unveils the peacock’s changing reputation, that before
its current turn as vain pretender, or the empty suit, the Church discovered peacock flesh does not decay.
So poke at any early Christian tomb and there they preen, depictions of life that does not die, the
incorruption of brief bodies made eternal. How every year a feather’s molt returns brighter and more beautiful.
This long-necked fellow settles into tessellation, his plumage not quite all unfurled
so not to draw too much attention, but whispers that he’s hiding here for now, a creature caught
in colored bits of glass, waiting till these ruins are restored to make his move.