Cloaking Devices

This story is paired with Chapter I of Bulfinch’s Mythology. For best experience, download the LithoReader for your iPhone or iPad and get NonBinary Review for free. 

Most individuals and governments through-out civilized history have underestimated cloaking devices.

We owe their discovery to the precocious genius of Hermes of Arcadia. Indeed, before infant Hermes could crawl, he invented an invisible cloak effective enough to make off with Apollo’s considerable herd of cattle.

Some argue that invisibility is possible without Hermes’ jump-start. Crowds, for instance, are a popular folk alternative for invisibility. A plain face also is extremely effective. But nothing matches the ingenuity of cloaking devices.

Consider the US Stealth Bomber which flies so fast and low it cannot be detected by enemy radar. Invisibility, in this case, is a mathematical construct based on speed, space and light—with all flight-crucial systems virtually fail-safe.

American scientists invented low observables not only to deploy bombs, but to carry out top secret surveillance maneuvers on The Girl With The Cloak.

At the time that Operations Research was investigating blurry amateur UFO Polaroids, an incident occurred which put The Girl With The Cloak on the radar map.

It seems a double agent heard Bella Akhmadulina explain the circumstances behind her poem “Chills.” Suffering from invisibility like most poets, she consulted a doctor. Although highly qualified, like most doctors, he was halfway through their session when she disappeared. That night, she wrote:


Your illness might be derisible / if oscillations preventing examination didn’t render you invisible. You see, when an object vibrates/and minute movement is great, /our eyes spot nothing in a distant blurry fog.


Word for word the poem matched the agent’s profile for The Girl With The Cloak. Obviously, the Russian poet was under her influence. The fact that TGWTC landed undetected by Orlyonok spy planes and Stealth Bombers posed an immediate US-Soviet security threat. For it is virtually impossible to carry out Search and Seizure missions on an invisible target.

The Stealth Bomber exceeds 600 mph velocities. To the lay-person, this might seem adequate for any impossible mission. However, if you consider the speed of light (which is the aeronautical cloaking device of God), the Stealth is a long way from bridging the space/time continuum.


Despite top clearance, the Agency conceded that the TGWTC’s Hermetic cloaking device out-classed US rocket science.

In his final report, the Operations Chief wrote:


Spy planes have documented activity of TGWTC through eye-witness reports of sabotage and disappearances. She has coerced refugees and detainees, rape victims, children, Alzheimer patients, poets, and an army of oppressed people too unimportant to enumerate, and absorbed them in her no-fly zone. I request what intelligence we have to keep poets under continued surveillance for Search and Seizure if sightings of TGWTC recur, no matter how blurry. Formally, of course, this report terminates the official investigation.


*The excerpt from the poem “Chills” by Bella Akhmadulina is a version by the author.

NBR4OlderphotosmallJulia Older won a National Outdoor Book “Classic” Award for Appalachian Odyssey, a memoir of her 2000-mile hike of the Appalachian trail, and currently is writing the final novel of The Isles Of Shoals Trilogy. Older’s poetry collections include Tahirih Unveiled and Tales Of The François Vase. Julia is the translator of Blues For A Black Cat stories by Boris Vian (U of Nebraska; French Embassy-Rupa New Delhi edition) and Boris Vian Invents Boris Vian (Black Widow Press Translation Series, Boston). Her own poems, stories, and essays have appeared in Poets & Writers (Ferlinghetti interview), Furious Fictions, Exquisite Corpse, The New Yorker— and numerous other publications.