ROBERT OKAJI – I DANCED WITH A PLATYPUS TWENTY YEARS BACK

Which is of course a metaphor pointing out

disparities in function and form, and the dangers

inherent in assumption: despite its cute appearance,

the male platypus delivers venom through an ankle

spur on a hind limb; samba with one at your own

peril. My friend wanted to build a catapult, but I

convinced him that trebuchets more efficiently

demolish walls. Instead, he experimented with atlatls,

before reverting to his favorite compound bow. The

fly swatter remains my weapon of choice, followed

closely by steel toe boots. I have yet to meet a scorpion

whose armor could withstand them, but I would never

stomp a platypus without first determining its intentions

and seeking mediation, perhaps through handwritten

correspondence. Pencils owe their origin to the lead

stylus, which eventually morphed into the wood-cased

graphite tool we now use. In his day, Thoreau was better

known for pencil-making than cabin-building. Arthritic

joints prevent me from writing by hand, but I saw lumber

when necessary. According to Ovid, Talos, nephew of

Daedalus, invented the saw, using either a fish jaw or spine

as the model. I look at my food before eating, but the

platypus dives with closed eyes, and locates meals by

detecting electric currents through its bill. In considering

form, I assume function. But we know what that means.

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