A whale of a time they are having,
the unicorns, gambolling along the waterline
where surf flecks phosphorescence on their hooves.
Distracted, they barely glimpse
the plummeting creatures flailing featherless stumps,
though they hear them smack into the salt-soaked sand,
and the stench of their secretions will stick around for days.
A foal it is, wouldn’t you guess, who blasphemes first,
whisking in the word from the fringes
of her half-formed mind.
“Umans. Mummy, they’re umans!”
Now umans, as we know,
do not exist. And if they did,
they’d keep well clear of Unicornucopia.
Naturally, the grown-ups rope the foal,
pen her in, brand her a bit, cut out her tongue
and fly her to a far-flung nunnery, standard stuff.
Themselves, despite the smell, still frolic on the strand,
taking care not to slip on the corpses unseeable,
nor bestow any comment or look on anatomies
not in the Book of the Past and the Future. Yet on nights
when heavenly bodies make their love behind cover,
a few fear-free broncos gallop to the decaying mounds,
sniff, prod, chomp distractedly, suck,
and slice samples to send to the secret labs,
for you can never tell when something that is not there
might free the herd from famine or,
lead to a new disease-control procedure,
or just push back the boundaries
of what unicorns never need to know.
Bryan Murphy is a man of Kent, England. He has worked as a fruit-picker, kitchen hand, road-sweeper, bar-tender, wages clerk, teacher of English as a foreign language, translator and copy-editor. He recently retired from a job within the United Nations system, and now concentrates on his own words, as a writer and an actor. He divides his time among England, Italy and the wider world. His novella of ideas, Goodbye, Padania, is available from his website: http://www.bryanmurphy.eu/.