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EMU ON THE LOOSE by Thaddeus Rutkowski • Cleaver Magazine
EMU ON THE LOOSE by Thaddeus Rutkowski Not much was happening at the artists’ retreat (people were hiding in their studios; maybe they were working; maybe they were drinking) until the emu arrived. We didn’t know where it came from; no one came with it. Wherever it had been, it hadn’t been missed. It was a tall bird, between five and six feet from toe to head, and it was in no hurry. It ambled past the barn complex and stood on the dirt road. Those who saw it from their studios left their writing (or their drinking) and came out for a closer look. The bird wasn’t afraid. It stood and stared at whoever approached. It didn’t need to use its legs to kick—no one came close enough to threaten it. Someone had the idea of corralling it in a pasture. There was a way to herd the bird; you flapped your arms and blocked its path. It had to walk away from you. The emu was led through a gate into a fenced field. It didn’t try to escape. It stood there in the tall grass and stared. Its eyes were intense in its triangular head. If it wanted to, it could jump the fence, or tear the wire mesh apart with its claws. Someone brought it food and set the dish on the ground near the gate, but the bird wasn’t interested. What did emus eat? Probably something more natural, something more alive than what was in the dish. Something that wriggled or flew. We left the creature in the pasture and gathered for our own dinner.