Why I Want to Own a Platypus
I have this collection of wooden
birds from Bolivia. Parrot,
toucan, woodpecker, hummingbird,
owl, goose, duck, flamingo and a flock
of small, nameless warblers
perch on convenient spaces
around my apartment. All native
to South America, they stir
memories and fill this indoor
air with silent song. On my last
trip to La Paz, I noticed a few
wooden platypuses for sale in the tourist
shops. Of course, I resisted. For one
thing, these beasts are every bit
as much tourists as the folks
who would buy them. Australian,
probably. Definitely not native.
For another thing, they look more
like cartoons than real animals.
And finally, in spite of its weird
birdishness—ridiculous bill, webbed feet—
the platypus seems to be a mammal.
So no platypus adorns the fake forest
of my living room. But now
I sort of regret it, and I've determined
to purchase a platypus
on my next visit south. Why?
1. Tourists have become native
to Bolivia, essential to her economy,
not to be disdained.
2. Great name, platypus. The fact
that I could not spell it
without Mr. Webster's help—and
had a hard time even locating
it—enhances its value.
3. Anything that, just by being itself,
makes me laugh deserves cherishing.
At this time of life, I need a platypus.
- Nancy Thomas