A fable is told round the nightly campfire
of a nomadic deep-desert clan
Of a magical bird made of wheels, gears, and cogs
And a curious, marvelous man
It was years ago now when the man came to stay
after wandering through the white sands
He appeared in a shimmer just like a mirage
Unmistakably from foreign lands
He approached their silk tents, executed a bow
and politely inquired of the chief
If he’d heard of a bird made of metal and gems
Or reports of an infamous thief
The chief simply refused to speak of the matter
till they each drank three cups of mint tea
The man grinned and nodded, delighted at once
by the tribesman’s hospitality
They entered a tent draped with rich printed silks
strewn with pillows of fine filigree
The sweet smell of incense hung thick in the air
As they drank the three cups of their tea
The chief cleared his throat and said, “Surely you’ve learned
that I am the one whom you seek.
I’ve known you would come, for my wife is a seer.
And she told me we needed to speak.
Yes, I stole the bird from the sultan’s fine palace
thinking only of riches and gain,
but the false bird is cursed and I’ll give it to you,
for it’s brought to me nothing but pain.”
The foreign man smiled and sipped his mint tea
and waited a bit to reply.
“I know of the curse. If you’ll give me the bird,
I’ll take it away by and by.”
From a chest of acacia carved over with vines,
the chief lifted a bundle wrapped tight.
When he opened the cloth, a bright glint of gold
shimmered in the candlelight.
A mechanical bird then perched in his hand
inlaid with fine precious stones.
It stretched out its wings, and whistled a tune
that shook the man down to his bones.
From his worn leather pack, the man lifted a cage
of intricate ivory make.
He opened the door, the bird flew inside,
And the chief realized his mistake.
The cage was the key to keeping the bird.
Without it, the curse took effect.
The cunning thief-king thought to steal back the bird
and the cage that would keep it in check.
His eyes quickly hardened, he reached for his sword;
it was as the strange gentleman feared.
But in the next moment, the man tipped his hat,
took the cage in hand and disappeared.