I thought you were going to tell me, she said,
How the building was actually constructed.
I was, but then I found it such bother.
And why, really, would you want to know this?
Do you plan to build a temple someday?
If so, go with current trends in temples,
Erect a structure of ferroconcrete.
Well, how were all of those heavy bricks
Transported from brickyard to worksite?
They put them in a truck and drove them over.
How would you do it, oh Marguerite?
Have slaves bring them on foot, one by one?
And tell me how they got the mortar up
To build the upper portion of the building.
In hods, by crane. The machine, not the bird.
Never confuse, I say, machines with birds.
But enough of this technical discussion.
Let us continue up the sloping ramp
And pass between tall sandstone columns,
Let us proceed inside into a place
As hot and tightly clenched as a mare's womb.
The heat that afflicted mighty Nineveh
Was a heavy presence inside the Temple,
A reminder of the drought that withered crops
On the once-rich alluvial flood plains,
A sign of God's continued displeasure.
Or perhaps not. Perhaps it was just me.
Perhaps my dislike of heat was an effect
Of my ongoing transformation to bird.
But I thought parrots would like heat, she said.
Electric parrots hate the tropic climes
With such a strong and incandescent passion
A Moor's jealousy pales in comparison.
A parrot likes the cool and likes the dark
And shuns like plague the direct sunlight
That brings up warps in his plastic case
And overburdens juryrigged systems
That use old balsa wood ceiling fans
As means to dissipate pent up heat.
Parrots avoid rain-forest humidity
Which oxidizes metallic surfaces
And encourages exotic fungal growth
In and around an input output jack.
Overgrown poisonous snakes and insects
Throw them into convulsions of dislike.
Allergic to the orchid's perfumed pollen,
Motion-sick at the thought of swaying palms,
Driven to distraction by chattering apes,
The flocks migrate afoot, step by step,
Some going north and some going south,
Above Cancer and below Capricorn,
The more sub the subtropic the better,
The more sub the subzero the better,
And best of all: tundra and frozen waste!
Nothing gladdens the heart more than to watch
A large parrot pack working together
And racing through the endless winter night
Slavering in harmony, howling in fugue,
Pursuing, pulling down a caribou.
Here in ancestral, polar hunting grounds,
Far from the fevered humours and fetid stinks
Of the equatorial jungles and swamps
The parrot is at home, untroubled, relaxed.
The parrot, in its natural habitat,
Dwells with the penguin and the albatross
By the sea at the foot of groaning glaciers
Where the ice, mast-high, comes floating by
Green as emerald beneath the northern lights.
They swagger there in mist and driving snow,
And swallow whole a living arctic char.
They belch once or twice and then shout out
Shove those bleeding crackers up your ass,
For a parrot on ice is in paradise!
Liber Jonae Contents