Table Eight: Joseph Suglia

Screeching down the road, a man is being pursued by an angry ostrich. Screeching down the road, the angry ostrich is pursuing the man. The man, you surmise, attempted to pluck the ostrich’s black feathers. You cannot tell if it is the man or the ostrich that is screeching louder.

See the ostrich chasing the man.

You are at the juncture of Clark Street and Erie Avenue. There is a girl and her father. A father and his daughter. A daughter and her father. You presume that the man is the girl’s father, though you have no absolute evidence.

The girl is wearing pink-rimmed heart-shaped sunglasses. Her hair is black, drawn back into threads. She is wearing pre-faded blue jeans and a white halter top. She is a girl of nineteen springs.

Her father—if this is indeed her father—is wearing opaque black sunglasses. He has white hair, a white moustache, and a white beard. He is big. He is wearing a white jacket, a white button-down silk shirt, and white silken pants. He has insta-tanned skin the color and texture of a crumpled brown bag. He is a man of fifty-five winters.

A stately ostrich stands beside them, a massive bird with sturdy legs and black-and-white feathers blowing slowly in the wind.

The ostrich looks at you mysteriously. The father does not look at you. The girl does not look at you.

The father lifts his daughter on to the back of the ostrich. Straddling the ostrich, she rides. Her long, black, threaded hair is blowing like a flag. She becomes one with the creamy, lithe ostrich.

The father strikes the tail of the ostrich with a newspaper. The ostrich lifts one heavy leg—demonstratively, ostentatiously—and then drops it back down. The ostrich strides north down Clark Street.

You are watching the unpredictable dance of the ostrich, which is dancing unpredictably, raising its rubbery purple legs; its rubbery pink toes seem to be caressing the ground. Its beak gapes. Its useless black-and-white feathers ruffle uselessly.

The girl yippies and yodels.

As the ostrich strides down the road, the girl strides down the road with the ostrich.

You watch the ostrich-girl disappear down Clark Street.

You look up at the sky. The sky has the hazy appearance of a hazel-colored throat lozenge.

Ostriches jolt into view. You are hit by the train of feathers and legs, they surge into you, knocking you to the ground.

The ostriches are gearing toward the cars.

The ostriches are attacking the cars, their wings spread wide open.

Clambering to your feet, you resume your posture and amble southward.

Look at the strutting ostriches! The ostriches are huge sparrow camels. Every ostrich is half sparrow, half camel. Their necks look like their legs: long and blood-raw. They jump up and down as they strut.

Not only ostriches. Ostriches, rheas, cassowaries, and emus are strutting in a parade. In a single formation, they parade past you now.

The emus shake their dusky, dusty, loose, hairy feathers as they strut. They elongate their necks and then recoil their necks.

The cassowaries wiggle their red fleshy wattles and jerk their casques as they strut.

(A casque is a walnut-shaped horn. The cassowary is a flightless bird, the largest bird in the world, with the exception of the ostrich.)

The cassowary’s shaggy black feathers are rustling. The bird shakes its red warts, which contrast happily with its blue neck.

Helmeted, the sacerdotal cassowary is proud of the casque on its head.

The rheas protrude their worm-shaped necks as they strut.

Bouncing, the parade of birds bobs into the fake-Irish bar, where the residents of Chicago are stupefying themselves with drink.

Copyright 2014 by Joseph Suglia

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