Psychopomp Magazine Summer 2014 - Page 31

Em Faerman


The habitat (pick one): a crowded lunch counter, a late night bar with full kitchen service, an all hours Laundromat.

At first encounter Predator sinks, blending, camouflaged, in the habitat’s darkest corners. Creature’s plumage an open presentation of fecundity, though such flamboyance is typical of the males in most species.

For example: male Poecilia reticulata (million fish or guppies) have been known to swim close to predators in courtship displays of vigor, a behavior only exhibited if the female is witness. Male Cyphotilapia frontosa (mouthbrooding cichlids) construct indented courtship arenas, up to two meters in circumference, fastidiously maintained, at the water’s bottom. The female is lured by its depth and breadth and cleanliness, perhaps too, the dance the male performs for her. If she veers close enough, they may share a disturbing kiss.

Similarly, Ptilonorhynchidae (bowerbirds) build bowers. Yes, the bird builds a structure to attract a mate, decorating with shells, leaves, feathers, stones (pop tops from Pepsi cans, perhaps, should they be present) and chewed up berries as paint, brushed with a pine needle onto the walls he has built. The berries are a hue of her preference, though they have not yet met.

In the animal kingdom, it is the female who selects the mate.

In the wild, mating occurs with the solitary promise of offspring. Some species such as Ceratopogonidae (biting midges or punkies) may not live after the initial insemination. While still clasped to the female, the male’s genitals are severed; blocking future mating attempts, ensuring his sperm will generate progeny. For the Cyphotilapia frontosa: the eggs will be laid in the courting arena the male has built and once fertilized stored in the female’s mouth to incubate. In two weeks time, she will release the offspring, to be sucked up again should danger encroach.

Seeing his prey is tired, vulnerable, weakened, Predator advances into the territory she has marked as hers.

Em Faerman | 27