Today's poem is by Paul Benton

The Mystery of Pigeons Feeding in December

You know it is the cold black earth, the sparse

grass beneath naked trees since late October,

the north wind attacking storm windows,

creation of a bitter language, cold syllables—

from a tongue of warning, many warnings,

all stress and churn, and this face in the window

framed in condensation, the face, male or

female, peering out through frozen glass—

rhythm of breath animates, obfuscates

the smeared and runny eyes that watch pigeons

peck at cold gravel. It is early morning,

cloudy; the weatherman calls for snow but

dusk will soon arrive with no snow in sight.

Downtown will be covered in a milky fog,

these pigeons elsewhere, cooing

beneath anonymous eaves, dreaming of wasps,

spider webs.

                    You know it is impossible,

but it is, anyway, here: this mystery of pigeons

feeding in December, not a song, but song-like,

a brittle observation that hangs, a knife

of ice from the branch of a tree. You walk

by and see these pigeons, that face behind

glass; you begin counting the steps you take,

you are walking faster, you hold

your breath—almost wanting to look back—

but no, you think, that would not be a good idea at all.

Copyright © 2006 Paul Benton All rights reserved
from Cimarron Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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