The Magpie Syndrome

 The clouds folded in around Gerald.  His consciousness dissipated and a feeling of weakness and helplessness became overwhelming.

With a passing awareness of grief unresolved and bitter acceptance of a burden unrelieved, he entered into a void of blackness and his life was ended.

He ascended into a winged condition where, in gossamer splendour, he beat out diurnal creation and his enlightenment and liberation was manifest.

Gerald had lived with the constant threat of a sudden and violent death.  Anxiety and dread are mediums in which caterpillars dwell.

As he inched forward along the branch of the lemon tree he felt always under siege.  Flocks of birds flying by were intimidating reminders of an omnipresent doom.  And the noise of Magpies calling sounded like taunting, menacing laughter.

Unseen, the pied harbingers of oblivion piled up and stacked in marauding formation above him.  Suddenly his sky darkened as a tumbling, chortling nemesis plummeted earthwards, beak snapping in a swooping search for food.  This time he was spared the death thrust.

He wondered if you hear the squawk from the beak that has your name on it.  Or does death strike unannounced?

He crawled further out on the limb and curled under a leaf.  There were none to offer comfort or relief from the weight of despair and anguish.  No hand of friend or family a bridge to sanctuary.  In morbid solitude he mourned the non existence of caterpillar mothers.

Gerald had a sentimental streak as well as an orange one.

On the second Sunday in May he crawled upon a chrysanthemum in mute expression of his melancholy.  He caressed the petals with his feet as a gesture of solace for his aloneness.
And all the while images of destruction tormented him.

He might be trampled underfoot or squashed between two house bricks by a child curious to see the green stuff ooze.  Or he might know the suffocating torture of exquisite death by insecticide.

If he was lucky, he thought, his fractured heart might be pierced then pieced together by the rapier barb of a White Winged Triller’s beak.  Impaled by Lalage Sueurii seemed a romantic ideal suitably heroic for a dramatically depressed Gerald.

But more likely he was destined to be Maggie’s meat.  His extravagant fantasy pose of death would see him, in reality, a mere caterpillar satay on the beak of a haunting currawong.

Caterpillars are not noted for any sense of optimism but how pathetic to have as a hope for the future only a preferred style of death.

Eat, crawl, eat, crawl, metamorphosis.

Caterpillars, then, live a one dimensional existence.  Although pre-pupating Gerald, of course, had no concept of metamorphosis.

Now I spend time at the tree where Gerald lived.  Gerald, fluttering, fragile Monarch of the skies.  That harassed and persecuted worm who now wanders through days of beauty, smelling flowers and playing on gentle breezes.

I sit in the shadows and contemplate the ugliness of the world.  I feel stranded and out on a limb.  All about I see unsettling magpie shapes and I hear screeches of warning and wails of gloom.  Locked in my Hieronymus Bosch reality, I curl under a leaf and gnaw on futility.

Then, sometimes, in spite of myself or better judgement, a brief glimpse of a certain top lip or the sparkle in shining eyes will pre-empt the notion of peace by an ending or deliverance unto death.

With wonder and ease, in an instant I touch the shimmering world with the translucent, harmonic wings of my butterfly perception.

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