I have counted the animals. They are ten if I leave out a couple of silhouettes hiding under the porch, most invisible from the gate where I stand. I mean just discernible.
Not that the other ten truly jumped at me… It took time to acknowledge them though they are in the open, dispersed through the expanse of this impeccable lawn.
Dispersed… through the expanse…
That's the point.
Technically I should be able to embrace them in a comprehensive glance.
Maybe yes, maybe not. I guess distance, perspective or point of view aren't at stake… the problem is a narrative one.
These folks seem to be part of different stories. I have to turn the page so to speak, each time my gaze shifts from one to the next.
But the fault is mine. In fact the story is just one.
First of all the animals have the same age: you can tell by the identical shade of verdigris spread over their surface.
They are all green and steadily so.
On a green lawn: that is part of the strange fascination they exude. But their tone, so similar to the shade of the vegetation, doesn't perfectly match. That's a bit of a shock.
A bit of a wound I should say. For those animals clearly are old while the grass, intimately flirting with them, is young, very young.
The grass fresh and vibrant flashes under the sun. While the animals in the grass are dusty. Passé.
When you realize it you suddenly guess it all. You decipher the unease you previously felt. You understand what your mind couldn't grasp.
They are ghosts. Solid ghosts for sure, and quite heavy.
All the animals are askew.
It is hard to believe their direction doesn't follow some perverse design.
They are disposed on diagonals that do not intersect. No. They miss one another: escaping, tangential, offset. The result is one of utter disquiet in a formally bucolic tableau.
Why does no one see anyone? Why does nobody watch anybody?
Of course they aren't blind. You can see the eyes, green like the rest. They aren't asleep or dreaming… a tension is evident in their necks erected, in their head thrust forwards, in their pointed ears. Alertness is overstated almost.
That is somehow pleasant. It gives out a sense of immediacy not always granted with ghosts. Those are solid I said… they are lively too.
But they look away.
The large rabbit is turned towards the house. The small ones on the left are round, puffy and soft. They squat on their four while their mom or dad - I can't tell - stands proudly on hind legs.
Mom - or dad - has a broken ear: it hangs on the side still attached. It reveals a whitish inside at the fracture like a severed cactus leaf. There's something about it both sad and obscene.
That ear, bent like an arrow showing the way, must be a secret sign. It confers to its owner a mark of authority. He or she was the captain once, the brave one wounded during the battle.
But the bunnies know nothing about it.
While the rabbits look at the house, the piglets (just in front, peering out of a bush of hibiscus) don't look back. They confusedly aim at a corner of the fence.
The two of them diverge slightly (as if starting for a same errand then suddenly but irrevocably deciding to part). One seems mesmerized by a point undefined, very lowly located. Maybe a hole in the dirt containing a treasure. Maybe it spotted the handle of a trunk unburied by an entrepreneurish mole. The intensity of its posture suggests so.
Its brother - or cousin - doesn't show solidarity or concern. Its snout is stretched up as if wishing to capture the last glare of a multicolored balloon, disappearing behind a passing cloud. Maybe a dear one just left, bound to obscure destination. Maybe in a time machine.
The duck - on the left of the piglets - ignores them entirely. With a minimal effort though, it could turn to see the rabbit, to immediately realize there is similarity between them. Rather specularity. Like the rabbit the duck stands: tense, alert and valiant. Protectively it hovers above two ducklings squatting close by (in a nonchalant fashion as the bunnies do)…
With a dab of common sense the duck would not only notice the rabbit but befriend it and start a conversation. It stares at the garage door instead: impassive, indifferent even to the curious branch of a Joshua tree that tickles its butt.
On the piglets' right side, in the shadow - obviously trying to keep unnoticed - another duck watches a tree trunk. Very attentively, as if the devious motion of a single ant (trying to disobey orders) shouldn't possibly escape its prompt noticing.
On the right of this aloof loner a single chick fell.
Not entirely. It still leans on a side… its body traces in the air another diagonal, echoing the broken ear of the rabbit at the opposite tip of an ideal - yet sloppily assembled - polygon.
The lone duckling must have kept its uncomfortable posture forever… its stern parent couldn't care less.
From the tree the duck obstinately spies a robot is hanging.
A robot. I haven't counted it among the animals. I am counting it now. It is number eleven.
It is handsome: assembled with ten tin cans of various sizes.
Ten tin cans, you heard it right.
Its proportions are perfect, almost classical Greek I dare say. I can't stop admiring it knowing how hard it is to achieve true simplicity.
Whoever made it succeeded. Not only its forms are delightful and a joy to look at: also its color amazes me. Whatever silvery shade was in the beginning worked itself, past rust, to a rich chocolate brown. Metal morphing into bark, wood, brick, stone.
The robot undeniably is no phantom.
Its very face proves it: it has bottle caps for eyes and for something else, either nose or mouth. Hard to say but it doesn't matter. The resulting expression is so exquisitely enigmatic it doubtlessly becomes wise. Understanding, sympathetic, compassionate.
From its higher vantage point, backed up by the authority of the tree, anchored by its mighty branch, the robot swings in the breeze: barely but sufficiently.
It enjoys in other words a margin of flexibility denied - cruelly - to the ghost animals that it clearly has under control. Or let's say benevolent supervision.
The robot unlike me sees it all at the same time, helped by a delicate oscillation, by a slight rotation… to the left, to the right…
The robot looks at me I think. And it smiles.