"High Brain" by Jon Eke
(Click picture above to view a larger image.)

 

Volus Nocturnus
by James Livingston

 

On the end of the southernmost
Edge of Borneo,
Near the river Barito,
In a remote pool,
A new kind of creature was found.

A chieftain,
Of the Punan tribe,
A race of cannibals
Who hold the color blue
To be sacred,
And tattoo their skin
To resemble
The flesh of crocodiles
Replied,

"It is like a tree frog that flies."

A local biologist,
Sent by the governor
Named the creature
Volus salamandrus,
and said,

"Head shaped like duck only
Flesh lips replacing orange bill.
They are colored like the flying frogs
Of this savage island,
Rhacophorus dulitensis,
That glide through rainforest
On wide unearthly webbed feet
In search of pools on tree trunks,
Their eyes of oval topaz seeking mates,
Bodies bluish transparencies,
Visible organs pumping cold blood
To miniscule minds.

This species can truly fly
On wings like the fins of a manta ray.

It is the oddest, most beautiful amphibian,
Having fish-like lips
And the body of a squid without tentacles.
I call it amphibian
As it breeds in water
But breathes air.
It only flies at night."

It's common name has become
Volus Nocturnus -- the night flyer.
Recently,
My youngest daughter,
Having studied the volus
In biology,
Learned of its endangerment.

In an e-mail
Written to the governor
Of Bandjermasin District,
Borneo, she typed,

"I have heard that the eyes
Of the volus resemble
Sapphires when the creature dies,

And that the natives there,
The Dayak and Punan,
Cut out the eyes of the volus,
Thread them on strings,
And wear them as jewelry.

If I could sail to Borneo,
I would take my grandmother's
Azure diamonds
And trade them to chieftains
For flocks of the volus.

Their rookery would be
In the antique well
South of the sunroom,
And at midnight
They would circle my house
Like nocturnal pigeons
With sapphire eyes
That glitter in moonlight
Under the heavens
In a sky of stars."

 

 

Story copyright 2001 by James Livingston ancient_73006@hotmail.com

Illustration copyright 2001 by Jon Eke jon@galaxy5.fsnet.co.uk

 

 

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