The Pigeons of the Saluting Battery
One is tempted to overlook
the structural perfection of the pigeons
as they scrap for scraps
wind blown from the café tables.
A good design has struck too many copies.
Their abundance militates against
the majesty of their making.
Present circumstance suggests
they were created to be chased by schoolchildren,
fat and stupid enough (the birds, that is)
to convey the illusion of catchability,
while escaping every time.
(In this, I suppose, they are a kind of happiness,
approachable, and yet never, somehow, quite obtained)
The children stalk, or sally at a full run,
and the pigeons, in their reedy voices cry “Oh, dear.”
They flutter stupidly, land stupidly, flutter and land,
worrying for the 40th time the abandoned wrapper.
In the face of this there’s small inspiration
to notice each gray miracle of wing,
each feather in its infinite if gray-based iridescence,
the band of flight muscle connected to the indestructible
weightless bones, their ease into the element of gods:
such as now,
as if on signal, their arising
into the crystal tunnel of the air,
carving their sublime geometries
between the sapphire firmaments.
One or two children watch the tumultuous ascent.
The others spy a red cat.
Qattus! Qattus! cry they upon their altered course.
He too will be history before they arrive