The Peacocks of Andalusia

Christopher Scalia

Smugness is the great Catholic sin. I find it in myself and don’t dislike it any less.” —Flannery O’Connor

On the Southern farm with the Spanish name,
the peacocks wear their feathers like a stylish hat
and strut as if they’re each the king of birds.

How unlike the pelican, who was thought
to wound herself to feed her young,
and so an emblem of the King of Kings.

Her birds are more like His believers,
stubborn folks with hearts as hard as wooden legs,
who wrestle guiding angels to the floor.

They are a fable’s beast of foolish pride.
Their calls sound like a desperate infant’s cries
but, followed by their train and retinue,
they preen without a passing thought of you.


  1. John Darretta says

    Well done in portraying the peacock–in the secular sense–as an image of pride. They do appear that way when strutting around Andalusia farm.
    In the Christian tradition the peacock represents immortality as well as Christ’s divinity and resurrection. O’Connor uses the image on both levels, especially in “The Displaced Person.”